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.

The Project

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.

Project Phases

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.

  • Phase І

    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).

  • Phase II

    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.

  • Phase ІІІ

    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).

Project Structure and Services

Each of the seven dialysis centers consists of several units and services provided at the same level as the other centers, to ensure unified world-class medical services. The units of each center consist of:

  • Facilities compliant with the most stringent international quality standards required for dialysis centers, in terms of space, vitality of location, flow, equipment and furniture.
  • Dialysis machines: The project consists of 1000 renal dialysis machines equipped with the latest blood filtration technologies, which enable advanced treatment that supports improved patient outcomes through several clinical functions. The most important of these is hemodiafiltration (HDF), which targets removal of medium and large-sized toxins, in addition to providing continuous dialysis to the maximum extent possible with no side effects; reducing calcium phosphate derivatives; controlling anemia prevention; and reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. These machines can achieve a high blood purity level for renal failure patients and can display on-screen results (KT/V) to measure dialysis session performance as well as patient blood pressure during dialysis. This is accompanied by the usage of high-permeability filters with high-flow bio-compatible membrane capable of releasing beta2-microglobulin which has excellent toxin removal properties for blood filtration, resulting in a blood purity that approximates normal kidney function.
  • Reverse Osmosis plants for water purification and treatment: 22 water purification units, apt to increase, were established in the project’s dialysis centers, since hemodialysis operations require ensuring the existence of high-purity water. The provision of such water requires reverse osmosis units. Thus, it was taken into account when establishing the project to build water treatment plants based on state-of-the-art technologies in this field. To ensure high quality, the Project contracted with the famous Swedish Company Gambro, a leader in the field of water treatment plants made specifically for hemodialysis units. Moreover, all pipes for treated water distribution are made of polyethylene (PIX), certified and approved as a medical device. Among these pipes’ characteristics is that they avoid biofilm formation and bear high temperatures above 90 degrees Celsius. Moreover, the pipe outlets are treated with and made of rust-resistant, heat-resistant stainless steel. Water treatment plants operate automatically by microprocessor control, whereby all their functions are performed automatically, from chemical and thermal operation and sterilization, to monitoring water leaks. Also automated is water treatment plants’ thermal sterilization of the membranes used in water purification, together with tubes and dialysis machines, at a temperature of more than 90 degrees Celsius.
  • Internal pharmacy, laboratory, physical exam clinics, and X-Ray devices.
  • Secure power system, to ensure continuous power flow to the dialysis centers, supported with back-up power generators in case of any emergency circumstances.
  • Natural gas stations, supported with back-up systems.
  • Central high-quality A.C. devices, equipped with passive pressure system for isolation patients.
  • High-standard warehouses equipped with cooling units to store medicines, medical supplies, and operational supplies.
  • A fleet of cars to transport patients, the needy, and special-needs individuals.
  • Office units for management, support services, and operation.
  • Residential units for centers’ staff, fully furnished and equipped.
  • Information Systems: All the project’s renal dialysis centers are linked through one information network to facilitate the services provided for auditors and support the performance of dialysis centers’ staff. Thus, the centers have been equipped with software systems and sophisticated computers that include:
  1. Building a modern high-tech information network connecting all the dialysis centers.
  2. Equipping each center with a wireless network.
  3. Linking the dialysis centers together via the Internet to facilitate the transfer and exchange of patient information among them, which enables high-quality services at the center where the patient usually seeks treatment or any other center.
  4. Building and providing recordkeeping systems documenting complete information about patients and their disease history, in order to facilitate safe transfer and exchange of patients’ electronic files among dialysis centers within a secure framework.
  5. Smart cards containing full information about the patient, his/her health condition, the medicines used, and customized procedures established for each.
  6. Information systems include secondary operational systems to manage the dialysis centers (medical laboratory management systems, medicine and pharmacy management systems, medical warehouse management systems).
  7. IT systems include related systems that track and analyze the data to ensure that operation is carried out in the best manner possible.
  8. Renal dialysis management and control system and documentation of patient-related information before, during and after the renal dialysis process.

Support Services

Dialysis centers operate with consideration to providing additional medical services, such as efficacy in treatment of anemia, vascular uptake, parathyroid glands, nutritional problems, as well as the application of global standards in infection control. Besides these services, the dialysis centers provide further quality services, including:

1- Social Services:

The dialysis centers offer patients social services by sociologists of both genders whose mission is to provide moral support in collaboration with the comprehensive rehabilitation centers affiliated to the Ministry of Social Affairs in its capacity as a concerned authority.

These services include the provision of a variety of support measures such as servants’ visas, reductions in the cost and fees of installing supplementary devices, in addition to registering patients seeking kidney transplants at the Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation. In addition, the Social Service Division collaborates with available charitable associations to obtain financial and moral support for the cases in need.

2- Bilateral Cooperation and Research:

King Abdullah Foundation plans to expand the cooperation framework between dialysis centers and similar institutions in the scientific field in terms of exchange of information and research results. The Foundation is also working to give its specialists the opportunity to attend events and participate in conferences, seminars, and workshops in the Kingdom and abroad, in order to enhance their professional and scientific expertise and experience and also to develop its dialysis centers’ patient services and care.

3- Contracts:

The Project has contracts with major companies that are efficient and specialized in providing support services; provision of medicines, medical supplies and maintenance; transport for staff and equipment; cleaning, nutritional, laundry, and environmental protection services; and telecom and information technology services; the aim is to provide patients with all the means of comfort and the highest medical service standards.