Saudi Arabia has set high standards in the field of health care. One of the first initiatives of King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, was to improve health care facilities for pilgrims to Mecca. The government also decided to furnish free medical treatment to all citizens and to pilgrims who travel to Mecca. Each administrative district has set up at least two medical facilities.

Medical technology is continually upgraded. Saudi Arabia's health care achievements now match those of many developed countries. Saudi Arabians are no longer required to travel abroad to get specialized medical treatment. The country has its own facilities to train highly qualified doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to staff one of the most sophisticated health care infrastructures in the world. Saudi Arabia's health care services now extend to the most remote communities in the country. Its social services are comparable to those in any major developed nation.

The private sector, which makes a vital contribution to health services, has expanded over the past decade. It operates a number of hospitals and clinics in the country.

The specialist hospitals provide all sorts of sophisticated treatments including open-heart surgery, kidney transplants and cancer therapy. Saudi Arabia has one of the World's largest and best-equipped eye hospitals. Recently, the research centre at King Saud university's School of Pharmacology developed a new drug that effectively stabilizes the blood sugar levels of diabetics.

The King Fahad Medical City in Riyadh is probably the largest medical facility in the Middle East. The complex includes various medical departments and provides housing for approximately 3000 employees.

The Saudi Red Crescent Society, the equivalent of the Red Cross, plays an important role in the health care field.

Did you know?

Millions of people who come to Mecca for the annual Islamic religious pilgrimage of Hajj, which usually occurs in the hot month of April. Approximately 11,350 doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, including the Saudi Red Crescent Society, are on hand to provide services to them.