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The health care system in Saudi Arabia can be classified as a national health care system in which the government provides health care services through a number of government agencies. In the meantime, there is a growing role and increased participation from the private sector in the provision of health care services.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) is the major government agency entrusted with the provision of preventive, curative and rehabilitative health care for the Kingdom’s population. The Ministry provides primary health care (PHC) services through a network of health care centers (comprising 1,925 centers) throughout the kingdom. It also adopts the referral system which provides curative care for all members of society from the level of general practitioners at health centers to advanced technology specialist curative services through a broad base of general and specialist hospitals (220 hospitals). The MOH is considered the lead Government agency responsible for the management, planning, financing and regulating of the health care sector. The MOH also undertakes the overall supervision and follow-up of health care related activities carried out by the private sector. Therefore, the MOH can be viewed as a national health service (NHS) for the entire population.

There are also three other mini-NHS which finance and deliver primary, secondary and tertiary care to specific enrolled security and armed forces populations: the Ministry of Defense and Aviation (MODA), the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG). In addition to these agencies, there are several autonomous government agencies which are responsible for the delivery and financing of health care services in the KSA. The Ministry of Education provides immediate primary health care to students. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs operates institutions for the mentally retarded and custodial homes for orphans. These facilities provide their guests a certain amount of medical care. The General Organization for Social Insurance and General Presidency of Youth Welfare provide health services for certain categories of the population in connection with its management of sport facilities. The Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu provides health facilities for employees and residents at the two industrial cities (Jubail and Yanbu). The Saudi Arabian Airlines operates its own health care facilities with the aim of providing health care services to its employees. The Kingdom’s universities provide, through their medical colleges or hospitals, specialist curative services and medical education and training programs, while they also conduct health research in collaboration with other research centers.

The Government also finances and provides care on a referral basis in its major specialized national tertiary care referral hospitals King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center and King Khalid Eye Specialist Hospital. The King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center uses highly advanced technologies and act as a reference hospital for cases that require advanced and specialist treatment, while it also conducts research on health issues in general and those related to the Kingdom in particular. The King Khalid Eye Specialist Hospital is designed to be a large health facility offering high quality specialized services for ophthalmology and eye surgery and medicine as well as being a regional research center in the area of ophthalmology. The hospital also has a cornea bank in which imported corneas are stored.