Saudi Arabia has set out plans to invest $66 billion in healthcare infrastructure and boost the private sector participation by 2030. According to a new Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) report, published on 4 April, the Kingdom plans to boost private sector participation from 40% to 65%.
The report says the population in Saudi Arabia will grow from 34.4 million to 39.4 million by 2030 and estimates that it could rise to 45 million by 2050 as life expectancy is projected to increase from 76.4 to 81.8 years. Around 40-50% of the proposed investment is likely to be on infrastructure until 2025, with the focus switching to digital solutions and medical consumables and implants after 2025.
This comes after the Saudi Council of Cooperative Health Insurance stated that all employers within the private sector should provide health insurance cover for their employees or anyone in their immediate family. The regulator stressed that when an employee moves to another company then the new employer is responsible for insuring the worker from the first day of work.
Between 2010 and 2020, the GCC region showed the highest investment in healthcare infrastructure, with strong growth in the number of hospitals and beds. The number of hospitals nearly doubled in most countries, and at least 80% of hospitals and primary care clinics built in the GCC were driven by government initiatives.
In terms of other GCC countries, the report notes that the UAE is shifting its focus to domestic manufacturing of pharmaceuticals in 2021 and beyond, while Bahrain is investing heavily in the digital transformation of healthcare services and delivery. This policy push towards healthcare digitisation is expected to peak in the next two to three years, attracting investments of around USD500 million to USD600 million by 2025.
Kuwait is also looking to drive infrastructure development and Qatar intends to build several new hospitals to meet demand for specialised services. Medical tourism is expected to grow in importance in Qatar and is a focus of the government’s strategy to diversify the economy away from oil.