Despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s severity in Saudi Arabia, it has led to gains that will serve the medical sector in the long-term. The most important outcomes of the crisis have been the reactivation of the health care and medical supplies industries in the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia holds the priority to have strong local industry and build up confidence in the local factories, which have been proven to be capable of meeting the urgent needs and demands of the local market since the beginning of the crisis.
Concerns regarding a worldwide shortage of sanitizers, face masks, and ventilators, which are essential in the fight against COVID-19, has pushed Saudi Arabia to increase local production for these items. The recent statistics from the Saudi Food & Drug Authority showed that local factories have been producing 3.7 million face masks per week.
Presently, more than 49 factories in Saudi Arabia produce more than 1.5 million liters of sanitizer. The Kingdom has also stopped exporting all medical devices when the pandemic broke out, ensuring its hospitals are equipped to handle a large number of patients.
The Kingdom presents a vast opportunity in its pharmaceutical market and aims to become a pharmaceutical industry hub for the Middle East and North Africa. International medical suppliers and biopharma companies are encouraged to explore the local market and form strategic alliances and partnerships with local players in different areas.
Furthermore, Saudi pharmaceutical manufacturing holds a critical position in achieving the goals in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan. The government is working to strengthen localized pharmaceutical manufacturing, as currently only 20% of the pharma market is locally manufactured, while 80%t is still imported.
The latest industry data revealed that the Saudi pharmaceutical market is expected to be valued at USD 10.74 billion by 2023 with a CAGR of 5.5%. It is one of the largest pharmaceutical markets in the Middle East.
Amid the dampened global economic growth and volatility in oil prices due to the outbreak of COVID-19, Saudi Arabia’s healthcare market is still expected to grow to USD 16.1 billion in value at 8.8% in 2020.
The rapid expansion over recent years can be attributed to the growing population and strong state support for health services, with major government investment to build new hospitals and clinics. In 2019, the Government introduced a 17 % increase in funds allocated for health and social development spending, with approximately USD 12.72 billion dollars designated for spending on healthcare projects directly linked to Saudi’s Vision 2030.
Saudi Arabia’s population stands at approximately 34 million people, with 32% of the population are under the age of 14 and is growing at around 2% annually. Currently, life expectancy in the Kingdom has increased to over 75 years.
The Kingdom is also witnessing the rise in non-communicable diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, which require long-term treatment and medication.