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Saudi Conventional and Non-Conventional Health Issues

The largest dialysis center in the Middle East is to be built in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The center will contain 140 dialysis machines and will be able to treat 800 patients daily. The three-story building will cover 30,000 square feet and will be constructed next to the King Fahd General Hospital in Jeddah.

The estimated cost of construction is $15 million and the expected construction time is 18 months.

Personnel at the hospital will train patients and their family members how to operate dialysis machines at home or at work, so that the patient can lead as normal a life as possible.

Currently 11,000 patients in the kingdom need dialysis – a number which is expected to rise by 9 percent annually.

Dialysis is necessary when the kidneys fail to remove certain chemicals and salt from the body, which could be harmful. In addition to regular medical staff such as specialists and nurses, staff at the center will also include consultants offering patients dietary advice, as eating habits affect the function of the kidneys.

In March 2009 the Saudi Health Ministry sent out several delegations to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in order to recruit 5,000 new doctors to staff 43 new hospitals that will be set up throughout the country, starting with the opening of 12 hospitals with a total of 4,720 beds.

Saudi Arabia does not have enough doctors to staff the country’s extensive health system, so most of the doctors working in Saudi hospitals are foreign nationals, either from Western countries or from Arab countries such as Egypt, who have moved to Saudi Arabia lured by the financial incentives on offer.    

Meanwhile, a Saudi Arabian charity organization called Purity have stirred up considerable controversy by launching a camping which promises to pay wedding expenses for Saudi men if they give up smoking. 

The offer is meant to solve two problems facing the Saudi society: to lower the number of deaths per year from smoking, and to stop young men from postponing matrimony due to a lack of funds. Statists from the World Health Organization estimates that 25% of all Saudis smoke.

The response to the campaign has been a mixed response according to local media, who write that some males look favorably on the incentive, but others consider themselves the victims of commercialization.