Health care system in Saudi Arabia: an overview

East Mediterr Health J. 2011 Oct;17(10):784-93. doi: 10.26719/2011.17.10.784.


The government of Saudi Arabia has given high priority to the development of health care services at all levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. As a consequence, the health of the Saudi population has greatly improved in recent decades. However, a number of issues pose challenges to the health care system, such a shortage of Saudi health professionals, the health ministry's multiple roles, limited financial resources, changing patterns of disease, high demand resulting from free services, an absence of a national crisis management policy, poor accessibility to some health care facilities, lack of a national health information system, and the underutilization of the potential of electronic health strategies. This paper reviews the historical development and current structure of the health care system in Saudi Arabia with particular emphasis on the public health sector and the opportunities and challenges confronting the Saudi health care system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / economics
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends
  • Financing, Government
  • Health Care Reform / standards
  • Health Care Reform / trends
  • Health Care Sector
  • Health Policy / trends*
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics
  • Health Services Accessibility / standards
  • Health Services Accessibility / trends
  • Health Workforce*
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy / trends
  • Population Dynamics
  • Public Health*
  • Saudi Arabia