Shoura Council takes up proposal to ensure treatment abroad in critical cases


Saudi Gazette report

— The Shoura Council will discuss a proposal that demands commitment by the Ministry of Health to take immediate measures for sending citizens to foreign hospitals when they cannot get necessary treatment within the Kingdom.

According to Dr. Faisal Al-Fadil, a Shoura member who presented the proposal at the 150-member consultative body, Article 27 and Article 31 of the Basic Law of Governance make it binding on the state represented by the Health Ministry to provide essential healthcare to citizens when they fall sick.

"If a Saudi patient did not receive treatment at Saudi specialist hospitals, if no hospital bed was made available to him, and if a disease cannot be treated inside the Kingdom while treatment is available abroad, then the ministry should take measures for sending such patients abroad at the state's expense," Al-Hayat Arabic daily reported quoting the proposal.

Treatment can be given to Saudis at Arab and other countries, Al-Fadil said, adding that he made the proposal considering the growing cases of treatment requests circulated through social media. Citizens living in remote cities and villages lack specialized hospitals to treat their diseases.

"They often fail to get transfer to specialized hospitals in big cities due to non-availability of beds or non-availability of treatment. At the same time, treatment for such chronic diseases is available in many foreign countries," he pointed out.

Many citizens have complained that the Health Ministry often ignores their requests for specialized treatment abroad even when its hospitals fail to give necessary treatment to their patients. "The ministry can set out a mechanism for treatment of such patients in foreign hospitals," he added.

Al-Fadil urged the ministry to open an electronic portal to receive applications for treatment required by patients who were unable to find admission at hospitals due to non-availability of beds.

Meanwhile, the Shoura is expected to ask the General Authority for Statistics to unify figures of unemployment in the Kingdom. Dr. Fahd bin Jumua, a Shoura member, had earlier stated that the real unemployment rate in the country is 34 percent against the authority's rate of 5.8 percent.

According to Jumua, the number of Saudi jobseekers reached 1.23 million. "Underestimation of unemployment will weaken the effort to solve the problem," he added.

The Shoura will also discuss the negative effect of the measures taken by the government to increase non-oil revenue, especially the decisions that are closely related to citizens' health, education and welfare, including moves to increase electricity, water and fuel prices.

The economic and energy committee has urged the government to study the negative implications of the measures to increase non-oil revenue on the economy.