By Mohannad Sharawi
JEDDAH — Several issues concerning health care in Saudi Arabia were addressed during a special ‘joint dialogue’ event at Okaz headquarters here, Saturday.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeah, Minister of Health, was the guest of honor at the event organized by Okaz Organization for Press and Publication.
The minister had a free and frank interaction with doctors and medics working in different sections of the health sector, investors in health care, businessmen and women, writers, journalists and intellectuals. A large number of male and female medicine students also attended the event.
Talked to the participants of a seminar entitled “A Bed for Every Patient,” the minister said health care in the country was still undergoing many development projects where around 180 hospitals and some 2,000 clinics are being constructed in all regions of the Kingdom.
The National Project of Health Care, the minister said, will provide a global average of 3.5 beds for a thousand citizens. The capacity of beds in different hospitals will be increased to provide more enhanced and developed health care. Al-Rabeah confirmed cancelation of the mechanism of four beds in a room norm.
He also said electronic prescription service of medicines has helped in eliminating 70% of medication prescription mistakes.
The minister also talked about health care employment system and salaries of Saudis in the health sector and said that the ministry always strives to expand the job opportunities in the health sector to accommodate more and more young Saudi medicine graduates.
“I would like to note that MoH has achieved big phase in employment of Saudis as we have employed around 80,000 Saudis so far and we have reached the 100% of Saudization in the male jobs of medical technicians. We hope to reach this percentage in other specialized jobs of both males and females. The recent national report says that the percentage of Saudis working in the nursing services has reached to 31.8% and there are some 3,500 non-Saudi workers in health sector in very rare specialties,” the minister said.
Al-Rabeah also said that the career system of health care and salaries have been studied thoroughly for more than 15 years by specialized committees. The salaries in the health sector have been reviewed many times to match the demands of all Saudis working in this sector. “We have taken care of many expenses for the staff working in the health service where some of the fringe benefits have been increased by 30%,” he added.
The minister also shed light on the health service project in northern Jeddah and said all projects in big cities were accorded equal share of care and follow-up.
Replying to a question over the alternative medicine services, the minister stressed that the Saudi government has always given importance to this service.
The minister even responded to telephone calls. A caller blamed the MoH for insufficient and outdated services in the field of family medicine. “We do not claim that we are faultless government body and I am happy here to sit with you and listen to all of your concerns and complaints to work our best in order to find the best solution for all our problems. “Regarding family medicine, different institutions in the country including medical, social and media as well should work together in order to enlighten the citizens about the importance of this type of medicine and in turn find the best ways to establish the required base of communication between the members of the society and the practitioners,” the minister said.
A caller from Tabuk demanded that the MoH should emphasize more on preventive medicine and said that experts argue that the success of any ministry is linked with the success of preventive medicine and awareness campaigns.