Chronic diseases have drawn a lot of concern from governments and private sectors in the recent past. Both developed and developing economies are struggling to tame the impact of chronic diseases. Healthcare funding has a significant effect on the quality of service and access delivered to people with diabetes. KSA has a publicly funded healthcare system, but there have been concerns on the need for privatization of the healthcare sector to improve the quality of service. Privatization of KSA healthcare sector will increase the management of diabetes, improve resource allocation, and improve healthcare access and efficiency.
Services Provided to Patients with Diabetes by Private Healthcare Sector in KSA
KSA is currently struggling to tame the prevalence of two types of diabetes. According to Naeem (2015), type 1 diabetes is caused by insufficient insulin in the body. Management of diabetes is an intensive process that requires rapid response and the availability of funding resources. The private sector delivers services similar to those that public-funded hospitals, but with high efficiency and reliability (Murshi &Al-Sheiskhi 2016). The only difference is in the efficiency and affordability of the services. Some of the services that the private sector provides include diet management and monitoring, patient education on glucose monitoring and managing of future complications, nutrition therapy, and medications for managing the disorder. Some private clinics and private doctors also offer additional services such as diet monitoring, consistent carbohydrate meal planning, and physical exercise therapists to help the patient sharpen skills and abilities (Naeem, 2015). The demand for these services burdens public hospitals, reducing the efficiency of the healthcare system.
How Diabetes Services Delivered and Funded When Delivered by the Private Sector
Proponents of privatization of healthcare services base their arguments on quality of services. The consensus is that private clinics and hospitals are effective and efficient in serving clients. On the other hand, opponents of privatization of healthcare services base their concerns on costs that patients incur in accessing rapid response from private clinics and hospitals. People with chronic diseases such as diabetes do not have sufficient time to spend time on queues. Additionally, sometimes medication costs leave patients with little money to access timely services from private hospitals. The intensive care and management required to monitor and manage diabetes make patients opt for services from private hospitals and clinics.
Diabetic patients in KSA can visit private hospitals or receive services at their homes from private doctors and clinicians. The costs of these services vary depending on the distance that the clinician will travel or the agreement between the private healthcare provider and the patient. According to Al-Rubeaan et al. (2015), patients have to pay for some services that are not covered by insurance firms. Private clinics and private service providers are paid directly by insurance firms for services under insurance cover (Hazazi and Chandramohan, 2017). The ministry of health encourages all patients to seek medication from public hospitals, but the quality of services does not meet the needs of diabetic patients.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Privatization of Healthcare
Privatization of healthcare services creates opportunities and challenges for people with diabetes. Privatization of healthcare means that the ministry of health sells public hospitals to the private sector. Private investors tend to be effective because they are motivated by profits (Al-howaish, 2018). The government pays for insurance covers for patients as independent firms manage hospitals. Healthcare is a backbone of any economy and the people therein. A healthy population implies that the government prioritizes the welfare of its people. Diabetes is likely to hit the epidemic level in KSA unless the government allows the private sector to run public hospitals.
Management of diabetes and caring for people with this condition requires efficiency and timely response. Services such as management of glucose levels and patient education on diet management and prevention of potential adverse effects should not be ignored. According to Bitar (2017), restructuring of the ministry of health will provide a timely response to issues that undermine the delivery of these services. The significant advantage of privatization is the ASAP (as soon as possible) response. Every patient visiting the hospital is prioritized because the hospital treats the patient as a client and does not want to incur losses. Patients do not have to spend time on queues waiting for attention from doctors. In case the patient cannot make it to the hospital, one may opt to call the doctor to provide services at home. Additionally, the doctor can make local arrangements with the clients for services that do not require visiting the hospitals.
Privatization of healthcare provides patients with freedom of choice. Diabetic patients in public hospitals do not choose beds or doctors to serve them. Profit-motivated hospitals and clinics prioritize the welfare of the client, providing additional rooms for those that want to receive the best service in primary care units. Al-Khamis (2017) explains that private hospitals have extra bed capacities, enough doctors, and quality services. Patients in public hospitals may be served by interns or nurses that do not prioritize the welfare of patients. Additionally, competition increases the quality of service and efficiency in response. Patients are direct beneficiaries when hospitals compete to meet their needs.
In spite of advantages of privatization of healthcare services, private sector suffers some limitations that are inconsistent with the needs of diabetic people. Costs of service delivery are the major limitation of this system. Private hospitals are profit-oriented, implying that they can escalate prices of services to maintain high profits. According to Al-howaish (2018), health care is an essential service that should not be transformed into a business. Since the government does not pay for all services, the affluent in society will benefit from premium services while the poor access low-quality services. Standardization of services should accompany privatization for the system to generate positive outcomes.
Every citizen deserves quality service from hospitals. The ministry of health in KSA has failed to provide adequate care to diabetic people. Saudi Arabia should privatize its hospitals. Private sector treats every patient as a client. Even though the private sector is profit-oriented, diabetic people require high-quality services for managing chronic diseases and accessing services from doctors. The government should also offer insurance cover for all services and place a cap on charges to avoid exploitation by the private sector. Timely access to treatment and effective service delivery will reduce the prevalence of diabetes and increase the quality of life.
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