Saudi Arabia Establishing a Nationwide eHealth Network
Saudi Arabia, a country "well-suited to ehealth ideas" because of its large size and relatively small population, has launched a series of health initiatives designed to link outlying health clinics to the country's urban medical centers, Agence France-Presse/Nando Times reports. One such initiative is the Smart Satellite Regional Health Center program, which now uses satellite communications and computer software to link three rural areas to the King Faisal Specialist medical centers in the cities of Riyadh and Jeddah. In the next two years, officials will add video conference links to help treat patients in rural areas and foster medical education for professionals "wherever they may be based." Saudi Arabia also has launched a Web site called Health Gulf, which allows people to "consult the best available medical knowledge and specialists via the Internet," with more than 10,000 Saudi-based doctors participating on the site. Dr. Sultan Bahabri, chair of the International E-Health Association, which held its first conference this week in Jeddah, said, "The Internet and cheap satellite broadcasting are already making a difference in the health literacy and health of developing countries." Saudi Arabia allocates about 10% of its overall annual spending, or $2.75 billion, to health care and is "spearheading a drive to have ehealth recognized globally as a distinct new field of medicine" (Parker, Agence France-Presse/Nando Times, 5/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.