(MENAFN - Arab News) Minister of Health Abdullah Al-Rabeeah said on Tuesday that the new budget allocation for the coming year would help the ministry improve services for citizens and residents throughout the Kingdom.
Al-Rabeeah thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, for the "generous allocations," which include financing for two medical cities in Makkah and the Eastern Province.
"The Health Ministry will strive to use the budgetary allocations in the best possible manner, in line with the national project for integrated and comprehensive health care. It also wants to achieve the noble values of fairness, equality and universality in the distribution of health services, with ease of access in all parts of the Kingdom," said Al-Rabeeah.
Al-Rabeeah said the ministry last year opened 15 new hospitals across the country, adding 3,450 more beds. The ministry plans to launch more hospitals and medical towers with 8,160 beds this year. It also plans to build special centers and health facilities for heart surgery and the treatment of tumors. It is currently building 93 primary health care centers and two medical city projects in the northern and southern regions, he said.
Ahmed Al-Biz, undersecretary at the ministry for engineering affairs, said the budget allocation would see a more even distribution of services in the country by taking into account the population in each area. He said the ministry has a strategic plan to have services on par with advanced countries in five years.
The 132 hospital projects currently underway would see the ministry create a total of 38,739 beds in the country, with the number going up to 72,525 beds in 2019. The ministry would also commission 24 hospitals this year, Al-Biz said.
The three medical city projects underway include King Faisal City to serve the people in the southern provinces, King Fahd City in Riyadh and Prince Muhammad City for the northern provinces. The ministry would soon launch King Abdullah Medical City in Makkah province, while preparations are underway to launch King Khaled Medical city in the Eastern Province, Al-Biz said.
He said the challenges faced by the health sector include the rising cost of services because of expensive equipment, the increasing cost of qualified personnel, and the growing population.
Sami Badawood, director of Jeddah Health Affairs, said the new health projects this coming fiscal year include the commissioning of the East Jeddah Hospital with 300 beds within four months, a maternity and children's hospital in north Jeddah, a mental health hospital with 500 beds in Asfan north of the city, a medical tower project at the Specialist Ophthalmic Hospital, and a central blood bank in the Suleimaniya district.
New projects in the budget for next year include 200 dental clinics - 100 in north Jeddah and 100 in the south of the city. There would also be new centers for tuberculosis, x-ray therapy, nuclear medicine, and rehabilitation and physical therapy in north Jeddah.
A source at the ministry said 4,723 people were sent abroad for advanced treatment at a cost of more than SR1 billion in 2013. This includes 2,781 sent by the Higher Medical Board and others on the orders of the King. They received treatment in countries including the United States, Britain, Germany and China.