Journal of Family & Community Medicine
Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contact us Login 

Users Online: 376 Home Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size


 Table of Contents 
Year : 2007  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 45-46  

Health manpower in Saudi Arabia: Which way forward?

Professor of Family and Community Medicine President, Sebai Institute Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Date of Web Publication28-Jun-2012

Correspondence Address:
Zohair A Sebai
Professor of Family and Community Medicine President, Sebai Institute Jeddah
Saudi Arabia
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 23012144

Rights and PermissionsRights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Sebai ZA. Health manpower in Saudi Arabia: Which way forward?. J Fam Community Med 2007;14:45-6

How to cite this URL:
Sebai ZA. Health manpower in Saudi Arabia: Which way forward?. J Fam Community Med [serial online] 2007 [cited 2021 Nov 28];14:45-6. Available from:

   Introduction Top

In the year 1974, I published a paper entitled "Projected Needs for Health Manpower in Saudi Arabia". In the paper, I stated that Saudi-born doctors constituted 20% of the total number of the doctors working in the country. In the years 1980 and 1982, I published two more papers as a reminder of the shortage of Saudi health personnel and the need to relate medical curricula to our needs. Today, more than 30 years after the publication of that first paper, despite the increase in the number of Saudi doctors, the percentage stands at 22%, an increase of only 2%. The reason, it seems is the lack of strategic planning.

Let us take a look at the present state of the Health Manpower in KSA, (doctors and para- medicals) and make a projection to the year 2035, 28 years from now when the population is expected to double from what it is now.

   Doctors Top

In order to cope with this phenomenal increase in the population by the year 2035, the number of doctors in Saudi Arabia must be doubled from the present figure of 35000 to 70000. If our aim is to ensure that 60% of the doctors at post are Saudis, then the number of Saudis need to increase from the current 7700, to 42000. It is expected that many of the Saudi doctors working at present will have left the service by the end of the next three decades for various reasons including retirement or change of careers leaving only 70% which is about 5000. This means that in the next 28 years, at least 37000 Saudi doctors have to be trained. Considering that it has taken 40 years to train only 7700 doctors, 10 - 15 colleges of medicine at least need to be established in addition to the 10 already in existence in order to meet the challenge.

   Para-medicals Top

To operate an efficient health team, 6-8 para-medicals are required for every doctor. These include all nursing staff as well as health assistants in such areas as the laboratories, x-rays, anesthesia, nutrition, rehabilitation, public health, health management etc. With 70,000 doctors in the year 2035, we should have at least 420,000 para-medicals. If our plan is to ensure that 60% of them are Saudis, that would give us 252,000 Saudi para-medicals. In the last 50 years we have managed to train only 35,000 Saudi Para-medicals. Only 25,000 of them will still be working by the year 2035. That means that 227,000 Saudi Para-medicals should be trained in the coming 28 years. Is this possible? What are the alternatives? Who should bear the responsibility of this training; the government, the private sector or both?

There are many challenges, to say the least, besides that of increasing the number of Saudi health personnel to the desired level. These challenges include the following:

  • To improve the quality of education and training and make them relevant to the needs of the community.
  • To aim at an efficient utilization of the health manpower.
  • To have an equitable geographic distribution.
  • To reach a judicious balance between curative, preventive, promotive and rehabilitative services. This should be reflected in the training scheme and curriculum design.
  • To improve the relationship between primary, secondary and tertiary care.
  • To strengthen the role of the private sector in education and training of Health Manpower.

   Conclusion Top

The improvement of the condition of Health Manpower in Saudi Arabia with regard to number, quality of training, efficiency and distribution, requires strategic planning. This should be accomplished along with an efficient system of follow- up, evaluation and feed back. It is my hope that when we look back from the year 2035 we would be able to say that we did it right.[3]

   References Top

1.Sebai Z. A. Baker T. D. Projected Needs for Health Manpower in Saudi Arabia, 1974-1990: Medical Education 1976;10:359-361.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Sebai ZA. Planning for Medical Education, Proceedings of the 4 th Saudi Medical Meeting, King Faisal University, Dammam, 1980;342-344.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Sebai ZA. Health Manpower; The Problem Facing Saudi Arabia. Saudi Medical Journal 1982;3:217-221.  Back to cited text no. 3


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded255    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal

Advertise | Sitemap | What's New | Feedback | Disclaimer
Journal of Family and Community Medicine | Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow
Online since 05th September, 2010