The Kingdom's laws guarantee the right to health care. Article (31) of the Basic Law of Governance stipulates: "The State shall be responsible for the care of public health and shall provide health care to every citizen and his family in case of emergency, illness, disability and old age". Under Article (2) of the Health Law, promulgated by Royal Decree No. (M/11), dated 23/3/1423H, corresponding to 04/06/2002, the Law aims to ensure the provision and regulation of comprehensive and integrated health care for the whole population in an equitable and accessible manner. Among the laws concerned with health care are the Law of the Saudi Commission for Health Specialities, the Law of Practicing Healthcare Professions, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority Law and others. Efforts are also made to spread health awareness, immunize against communicable diseases, diagnose and treat common diseases, ensure the supply of basic medicines and providing health care for all pilgrims, both Saudi and non-Saudi.
Efforts are also continuing to improve the standard of health services offered to beneficiaries on an equal basis. These efforts cover several areas, including: mother and child care, vaccination programs, health care for the handicapped and the elderly, health care for students (male and female), health care in cases of accidents, emergency and disasters, combating infectious diseases and epidemics, treating incurable diseases, organ transplant, psychiatric care and other elements of a comprehensive health care system, in addition to the support infrastructure in these areas. Worthy of note is that the number of primary health care centers serving citizens and residents throughout the governorates and administrative districts of the Kingdom rose to 2,391 health centers that offer primary health care to beneficiaries, including citizens and residents.
A number of measures have been taken to ensure that everyone receives first-class health care. Such measures include providing health resources, upgrading the workforce in the health field, and expanding on opening medical cities all over the Kingdom. Furthermore, the Kingdom's Vision 2030 has given a special concern to health programs and policies and to improving the level of health services offered to the population in urban and rural areas in order to ensure equality with respect to enjoying the right to health and health services. In addition, budgets have been allocated to build a number of medical cities, hospitals and primary care centers in all regions of the Kingdom. The Kingdom now contains (470) hospitals and (70844) beds with a rate of (22.3) beds per (10,000) people.
Furthermore, Royal Orders and Decrees have been issued to provide medical treatment to certain groups at the expense of the State and to give them the same treatment as Saudi citizens. These include: foreign wives of Saudi citizens; children of female Saudi citizens; foreign husbands of female Saudi citizens, if under their wives' sponsorship; domestic service workers; persons under contract to the State, if their contracts stipulate medical treatment at State expense; tuberculosis patients holding a legitimate residency permit; male and female prison inmates, while serving their sentences; members of the Nasi tribes holding Yemeni nationality and residing in the vicinity of Najran and the Eastern and Western Regions during their sojourn in the Kingdom; persons with disabilities; elderly people; orphans living in social insurance homes; AIDS patients; and people who fall ill while performing Hajj or Umrah. The Ministry of Health has issued and circulated instructions to all Ministry hospitals and health centers entailing that these groups receive treatment.
In order to reduce medical errors, a Sentinel Events Monitoring Program has been established. Under the program, events are recorded, studied and analyzed to ascertain the causes of medical errors and ways to address them. A Patient Safety Program has also been established involving review of clinical safety standards and conducting an annual evaluation of all hospitals. A Clinical Review Program has been created, based on 49 medical indicators that are examined in each hospital to detect any treatment delays. In the field of medicines, a Medicine Safety Program has also been established to monitor medicine errors, determine their causes and how to address them.
In addition to the efforts of the Human Rights Commission to raise awareness of human rights, measures have been taken to raise awareness of the right to health. These include:
- Broad dissemination of the Patient Rights and Responsibilities Document, requiring hospitals to display the document conspicuously in anesthesiology departments, corridors and patient rest areas;
- Organizing training courses and symposia to provide education and training concerning the Patient Rights and Responsibilities Document;
- Including the topics of the Patient Rights and Responsibilities Document in the Saudi Commission for Health Specialities tests;
- Dissemination of the Patient Rights and Responsibilities Document through social events.