In the 20th century, the health care industry of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) was scarce, and it could not provide adequate services to its populations. This idea is supported by the fact that Makkah only had three private hospitals then, including Al Qabbani Hospital, Al-Sharif Hospital, and Al Ajwad Hospital (Al-Hanawi, Khan & Al-Borie, 2019). One can say that the most significant event that influenced the rise of health care in the KSA happened in 1950 when the Ministry of Health (MOH) was established (Al-Hanawi, Khan & Al-Borie, 2019). After that, the Saudi Arabian government started actively participating in the development of medicine at all levels, including primary, secondary, and tertiary ones. That approach resulted in significant benefits, which is supported by the fact that the KSA has a lower number of infectious diseases reported in 2019 in comparison with previous years (Al Asmri et al., 2019). Thus, there is no doubt that a more developed health care system has resulted in a healthier population.
Even though it is impossible to overestimate the meaning of the MOH for the KSA, it is not the only establishment that deals with managing hospitals and providing medical services. Other organizations include the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of National Guard, the Ministry of Defense, the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, and the Ministry of Education (Statistical Yearbook, 2017). However, there is an essential difference between the MOH and the establishments mentioned above. It refers to the fact that the MOH manages hospitals and medical centers that provide services to all citizens, while the specified organizations only take care of their employees and their family members. This distribution of responsibility contributes to the fact that every KSA citizen will obtain medical services of decent quality.
The MOH states that the nation currently has 484 hospitals, which is 14 establishments more than it was in 2018. In Saudi Arabia, medicine is free for people because it is sponsored by the state. Thus, this field represents a significant financial liability for the KSA because the health care industry amounts to the third largest segment of government spending. A constant increase in health care spending is an evident sign that this industry becomes better every year. For example, it refers to the fact that Saudi Arabia allocated 172 billion Saudi riyals on medicine in 2019, which is approximately 8 percent higher in comparison with 159 billion in 2018.
The governing body tries to distribute medical institutions across the country according to the population needs. That is why Riyadh, the capital of the KSA, has 47 hospitals. However, only eight of them provide the population with emergency medical services free-of-charge and on a round-the-clock basis. This information means that Saudi Arabia has the basics of emergency care, but it is necessary to draw specific attention to the development of this health care sector. Thus, the next section will comment on an organization that is responsible for providing emergency medical services in the KSA.
Saudi Red Crescent Authority
When one starts discussing emergency medical care in the KSA, it is necessary to note that the state follows the Anglo-American approach, rather than the Franco-German one (Al-Shaqsi, 2010; Mustafa & Troudi, 2019). In the country, there operate two primary ambulance services, including basic life support (BLS) and advanced life support (Mutairi, 2016). They differ according to what kind of health issues they can successfully handle.
Furthermore, In Saudi Arabia, the services of this kind appeared when Ambulance Charity Association was created. It was an emergency care organization that was established to serve pilgrims to holy sites, and that consisted of a station and a few ambulances (Khattab et al., 2019; Sebai et al., 2001). Now, the given medical sector is covered by the Saudi Red Crescent Authority (SRCA) that emerged in 1963 to provide the population with pre-hospital care (SRCA, 2008). Now, the organization deals with saving lives in Saudi Arabia.
Since the organization regularly considers matters of life and death, it is not a surprise that it has drawn specific attention to the education and training of its employees. Initially, it focused on employing emergency medical technicians (EMTs), but the requirements had become moderated by 2005 (AlShammari et al., 2017). Now, emergency medical service preparation is limited to basic education courses and workplace training (AlSHammari et al., 2017). That year, the government created the requirement for medical professionals to pass basic and intermediate learning to become enrolled in the distribution of emergency care.
The state establishes standards for the SRCA because this organization is sponsored by the MOH. One should mention that the KSA has managed to contribute to the development of this medical sector. Among the possible indicators of this success, it is reasonable to emphasize a high number of ambulance stations in the country. In 2018, their number amounted to 440 establishments, which is substantially more, compared to 404 stations in 2017. Another positive feature refers to the fact that SRCA centers are proportionally scattered across the whole country. For example, Riyadh has 37 centers that provide care to seven million citizens. Thus, this organization successfully provides the KSA population for emergency medical services.