The Largest Charity Project for Renal Patient Care in Saudi Arabia
King Abdullah Foundation’s Dialysis Centers, by the time their implementation phases are complete, will save SAR 600 million in treatment cost annually for beneficiary patients who face the treatment consequences of kidney failure.
The Healthcare Sector During King Abdullah’s Reign
The healthcare sector ranked high among the priorities characterizing the reign of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. This sector has witnessed accelerated growth supported by the late King’s personal directives. The year 1428 H (2007) was a special year for the healthcare sector which registered qualitative leaps unprecedented throughout its history, since it received multifaceted support, particularly developing national medical cadres and increasing the number of medical facilities. In 1428 H (2007), King Abdullah also ordered the establishment of 1010 fully equipped healthcare centers across the Kingdom’s cities and villages in addition to previously established centers. In the same year, he also introduced King Abdullah Scholarship Program aimed at sending 1,000 doctors and technicians to study abroad in the fields of medicine and applied healthcare sciences. The King also generously approved a patient service bonus amounting to two months’ salary per year for those who serve patients directly in all healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics, and quarantines.
King Abdullah’s generous patronage of significant development in Saudi Arabia’s healthcare sector covered all healthcare domains and specialties, from medical research to family medicine, gynecology, obstetrics, and pediatrics, to establishing additional oncology, cardiac, and neurological science centers. Medical specialties constituted a major share of development projects, such as qualitative development in ophthalmology, subspecialties such as organ transplant, conjoined twins operations and other specialized medical fields.
Alleviating the suffering of renal failure patients topped humanitarian and healthcare sector priorities in King Abdullah’s mind and conscience, given the ongoing suffering incurred by such patients, who bear the continuous hardship and massive cost of recurrent dialysis just to survive.
Personal Royal Care
Although all healthcare sectors were given great attention during King Abdullah’s reign, alleviating the suffering of patients with renal failure received his personal patronage, whereby he ordered the establishment of dialysis centers to offer patients their services for free at his own expense, due to the continuous and critical care requirement in renal failure disease, which presents both psychological and financial hardship for patients.
Given King Abdullah’s innate compassion and love towards people, particularly the poor, the needy, and patients, this project was specifically financed by his own funds and under his direct supervision. After he passed away, project supervision was transferred to his sons who form the Board of Trustees of King Abdullah Foundation. The Foundation continued to carry out the rest of the project’s phases year after year.
Statistics indicate that the number of patients with renal failure in Saudi Arabia treated by blood filtration technology is increasing by more than 7% annually, whereby the number of patients treated with this technology reached 13,000 by the end of 2012. King Abdullah’s generous grant to inaugurate the dialysis centers via King Abdullah Foundation resulted in providing distinguished, accessible and fast services to these patients at the King’s own expense.
The project was launched in January 2014, corresponding to Rabie Awwal 1435 H, to be implemented in phases ending in 2021. In its first phase, the project began by serving 1750 patients and is set to reach 6,000 patients in its final phase, whereby its services cover would more than 45% of renal failure patients in Saudi Arabia. The remaining 55% is distributed among all healthcare facilities in the Kingdom (public, private, and charitable).
Indicators show that the patient who personally bears the cost of dialysis would pay an estimated SAR 100,000 annually for this medical service. Thus, the project would save beneficiary patients an estimated SAR 600 million annually.
The project includes the construction of seven dialysis centers in several areas in the Kingdom distributed to cover thousands of renal failure patients, according to the geographical spread of the disease shown by studies and statistics. The dialysis centers operate in compliance with the most stringent international medical standards and specifications, with full commitment to implementing infection control standards. The Health Affairs at the Ministry of National Guard supervises these centers’ service quality.
The Project’s first phase was launched on Rabie Awwal 14th, 1435 H, corresponding to January 13th, 2014, whereby three dialysis centers became operational (two in Riyadh and one in Jeddah).
In February 2015, a dialysis center was inaugurated in Makkah as part of the project, constituting the project’s second phase and as part of the overall aim to expand services to patients across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Work continues to complete the project’s third phase to inaugurate three other centers in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, Ha’il and Rafha (Northern border region).