Global Health Issues 2020: Saudi Arabia

Healthcare Issues for physicians practising in Saudi Arabia 2020

Sarah Peddie

Health Issues Saudi Arabia 2020

Health issues are always evolving which means countries and continents all around the world are having to face different challenges in tackling them. In 2020, the whole world has faced challenges with trying to tackle the novel coronavirus that has taken hold of nearly every country. Despite this being a massive issue, there are still many other health issues that still need to be tackled.

In this article, we take a look at what health issues are present in Saudi Arabia in 2020.


As we all know by now, the novel coronavirus has taken control of the whole world and cost so many people their lives. The problem with this is that there is no known cure for the virus as we were made aware of its presence in December 2019. There is currently a race to find a vaccine to tackle the virus and make people immune.

In Saudi Arabia, the virus had peaked a bit later than expected in June even though the first case in the Kingdom was recorded at the very start of March. Since the beginning of the outbreak, Saudi Arabia has reported over 290,000 cases and 3,200 deaths throughout the Kingdom. These figures are the highest amongst the Gulf states.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) 

This is a viral respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus and it was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Around 35 percent of all patients with the MERS-CoV infection have died. Most cases are attributed to human-to human infections in healthcare settings. However, current scientific evidence shows that dromedary camels are a major reservoir host for the disease. 

In 2020, 15 MERS-CoV cases were reported in Saudi Arabia back in March which resulted in five deaths. 


Almost 19 percent of the adult population in Saudi Arabia are diabetics which is a total of 3.8 million people. One of the biggest causes of so many cases of diabetes is obesity, 40 percent of the population are obese. 

Unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise lead to diabetes and this can cause further complications with people’s health. Around 50 percent of dialysis patients were diabetics and the same ratio was found in patients with cardiovascular problems. 

Saudi Arabia ranks the second highest in the Middle East for the number of diabetics in their country and seventh in the world rate for diabetes. 

Cardiovascular Diseases

Mortality due to heart disease exceeds cancer each year around the world. Coronary heart disease constitutes as one of the main health problems in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - being the third most common cause of hospital based deaths. 

Cardiovascular diseases result in around 37 percent of deaths in Saudi Arabia. 

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