Health and development in poor countries with particular reference to Saudi Arabia
This thesis describes and analyses the development of the health care system in Saudi Arabia, particularly in the period since 1970. Two major differences between Saudi Arabia and most other countries have to be isolated. First, as a result of its oil wealth, Saudi Arabia has experienced extremely rapid economic growth over the last twenty years. Second, a very strong value system, Islam, has a persuasive effect upon Saudi society, including the organization of its health care system. The Basic Needs approach, which is favoured here, defines 'economic development' a the satisfaction of certain basic material human needs. Health care is important because it is one such basic need. The principal characteristics of health and health care in poor countries are examined. Patterns of mortality and morbidity are discussed as are the different health systems, and financial and health care planning arrangements, which are to be found. Trends in mortality, morbidity and life expectancy in Saudi Arabia are then discussed, bringing together data not previously assembled. The framework of the Saudi health sector is described. For the first time, the roles of health service providers, other than the Ministry of Health itself, are comprehensively documented. Regression contributions of rising living standards and the development of the health services to improvements in health status. Although some positive results are obtained, inadequate data prevent firm conclusions from being drawn. This crucial issue is therefore pursued on a more analytical level, employing comparative evidence on the experience of other countries. The final judgement is that economic growth, rather than the expansion of the health services, is the principal explanation of better standards of health in Saudi Arabia.