Experts gathered this week for the ‘Public meets Private Webinar – An In-depth look at PPP Healthcare programmes in Saudi Arabia’. The Department for International Trade at the British Embassy and the Ministry of Health in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) are currently hosting a series of webinars as part of Vision 2030 to develop and transform healthcare aiming to improve the living standard through its strategic initiatives. The first of these webinars covered the progress of PPP-Public Private Partnership programmes and discussed present opportunities for private investors and suppliers.
The speakers were: KSA Ministry of Health experts, Dr Ibrahim Al Omar and Dr Adil Monshi, with opening remarks provided by Neil Crompton, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The discussion was moderated by Kabir Rahman, head of trade at the British Embassy and chief operating officer for DIT KSA.
Under the Saudi Vision 2030, the Privatisation Programme aims to enhance the role of the private sector in providing services and making government assets available.
Dr Monsi explained: “Under vision 2030, we have 11 programmes, one of which is the privatisation programme. It aims to enhance the role of the private sector, in providing services and making government assets available to the private sector. We’re hoping that we can support the government in providing excellence in services.
“We’re hoping also that this programme improves the quality of services provided to contribute to the reduction of costs, encouraging economic diversity, development and boosting of competitiveness to face regional and international competition. The programme also seeks to attract foreign direct investment and improve the balance of our payments.”
“This is a very exciting time, where there is potential for companies that have innovation in their DNA to participate in what is becoming one of the major transformations of health and care globally.”
-Dr Charles Alessi, chief clinical officer, HIMSS
PPP projects and opportunities
The webinar panellists presented various strategic priority opportunities at a national level and cluster level. Some of the high impact opportunities include drug rehabilitation, mental acute care and specialised centres. Amongst the strategic priority opportunities, cluster management, PHCs, hospitals and medical cities and extended care were highlighted.
Dr Monshi said: “The programme depends on the principle of value-based care, which ensures transparency and financial sustainability by promoting public health and preventing diseases. In addition to applying the new model of care related to disease prevention.”
“We will know the number of projects and the investments needed for these projects within the next five years. So the private sector should be on the lookout for this strategy. It has been finalised, it’s waiting, it’s awaiting final approvals by the authorities.”
Dr Charles Alessi, chief clinical officer at HIMSS, further highlighted the opportunities present in the Kingdom: “There is real opportunity in areas around personalisation and data in particular, because Saudi has one of the greatest penetrations in terms of smartphones and digital uptake which open a whole load of doors. Also, it’s highly developed in terms of its deployment of data-driven solutions and has a highly educated workforce. In many respects the perfect place to innovate.
“This is a very exciting time, where there is potential for companies that have innovation in their DNA to participate in what is becoming one of the major transformations of health and care globally. There is a real appetite to deploy and to embrace change.”
KSA and UK activities
Although there has been significant collaboration between KSA and the UK health services, Crompton conceded that the relationship will be developed even further as a top priority for the embassy.
“We’re very pleased we’ve got lots of UK subject matter experts working with the Ministry of Health here, in areas like BPP, digital health, primary care and clinical pathways,” said Crompton.
“We’ve had a good partnership in the past with Health Education England in training Saudi doctors and Public Health England working on projects, by public health, mental health, wellbeing and raising awareness of chronic diseases.
“In terms of PPP, I think the UK consider ourselves one of the pioneers of the concept. The concept of it started as a way of helping build the infrastructure in traditionally public sector areas.
“I think over time it has evolved so that it is not just about building the infrastructure, but the provision of services to generate quality service outputs and collaboration between the public and private sectors, both in the provision of care and indeed the development of policy as we go forward,” added Crompton.
Strategic priority opportunities
The Department for International Trade is a government department responsible for striking and extending trade agreements between the UK and foreign countries, as well as encouraging foreign investment and exports trade.
On supporting exhibition booths both in Saudi and the UK, Aya Maatouk, senior trade advisor healthcare at the UK’s Department for International Trade, said: “The most important thing that we do is that we are very honest and transparent about your product or services. We’re very direct to let you know if this is actually something that would fit in the Saudi market or not, just to make sure we don’t waste your time or our stakeholders’ time.
“That being said, it doesn’t mean that this is really kind of an easy journey, you need to be extremely patient. But the main point is that we will try to make it a bit easier.
“One point to mention, it’s actually now more than ever, the exact right time for companies to consider coming and exploring opportunities in Saudi. You can see how much the healthcare sector has progressed, and how we’ll develop the plan over the next years. So please don’t hesitate after the webinar to reach out to us,” concluded Maatouk.