Many people simply don’t consider a move to work as a medic in Saudi Arabia because they doubt the facilities will be on a par with the ultra modern UAE, Qatar and Bahrain. In reality however many Saudi facilities are better than those in many western countries, as well as its neighbours.
Here, therefore, is Odyssey’s guide to 4 things to know about healthcare in Saudi Arabia.
Funding and Facilities that are beyond many other locations reach
Investment in the Saudi healthcare sector has been at a rate that far exceeds many other countries reach.
Although the figures were cut slightly this year that has been after a period of substantial growth. In 2009 the country’s healthcare budget sat at 40.43bnSR (around £8bn), however by 2015 this figure had more than trebled to 160bnSR (£33bn).
This substantial investment is recognised in the improving health of the nation, along with the gradually increasing number of people coming to Saudi Arabia as medical tourists. The country’s life expectancy is now on a par with the United States, whilst the infant mortality rate is continuing to drop.
The money poured into the Saudi Healthcare system has also allowed for the development of King Fahad Medical City in Riyadh. A 1200 bed, four hospital medical facility that is reported to have cost in excess of $600 million.
If you were worried that moving to work in Saudi Arabia would be taking you to outdated facilities, or an underfunded system then you couldn’t be further from the truth. The facilities on offer in the country far exceed those that can be found in many other nations.
Licensing and Visa Process
In Saudi Arabia the licensing and visa process is quite different to elsewhere. Instead of moving to the country with an entry visa, and then applying for your license to work, Saudi does things in the opposite way.
When you apply for your visa you will need to have your documents authenticated by both the UKSACB (The UK Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau) and the Saudi embassy. From there the documents are then sent to the Saudi Health Council and only once the license has been granted by them will you be authorised entry into the Kingdom.
The paperwork side of a move to work in Saudi Arabia’s healthcare sector can take a lengthy period of time, however at Odyssey we can help make it a much less stressful process. We have unrivaled experience and contacts in the Kingdom that mean we can allow you to focus on getting everything organised in your personal life whilst we take car of the paperwork.
A Divided Ministry
Unlike in most other countries, the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia is split into three sub departments each of whom cares for a separate group in society by running separate hospitals, clinics and health centres exclusively for these groups. These are MODA, MOI and SANG facilities.
MODA hospitals care for those in the Ministry of Defence and Aviation as well as their families and, in extreme cases, some civilians. MOI looks after those employed in the interior ministry and SANG facilities are for those in the Saudi National Guard.
The three main offshoots from the MOH are joined by a few autonomous government agencies who deliver healthcare to various other groups in Saudi society - including students and people suffering with severe learning disabilities.
Before moving to the country it’s important to know (if you are moving to a state run hospital) which sub-department runs the facility.
All too Familiar Common Illnesses
A trend which appears to be similar throughout all Arab countries is a high rate of heart disease caused by a poor diet, lack of exercise and obesity.
It is estimated that around 30% of the Saudi population are classified as obese, and this figure has risen gradually since 1990. 23% of men in the country are classified as physically inactive, whilst this figure is nearer 50% for women and so the health issues that accompany these factors are increasingly prevalent. Unsurprisingly Saudi Arabia also has a high rate of people suffering strokes, and the MOH faces a tough task to try and get the population active.
Whilst heart conditions related to a poor diet and lack of exercise are commonplace, so too is Diabetes.
Saudi Arabia has the 7th highest rate of diabetes in the world, with an estimated 16.8% of the population suffering from the condition. Despite increased education focusing on avoiding diabetes, rates appear to be continuing to increase and so too are the side effects of the illness.
Respiratory conditions and kidney disease are two further lifestyle related issues that are becoming big problems in Saudi Arabia. Although recent trends have shown that smoking rates in the country have finally fallen.
Saudi Arabia is a unique country that brings with it a number of unique challenges and experiences. It certainly isn’t for everyone, however it does have plenty to offer open minded medics looking to enhance their careers.
To start your journey to the desert Kingdom today, simply register on our website for job alerts.