National healthcare spending in Saudi Arabia is expected to reach $35 billion by the end of this year.
To put it in context, that number is equivalent to 4.8 percent of the kingdom’s total GDP.
However, if you look more deeply into the health care budget of KSA, you will see that annually, almost 10 percent of this amount ($3.1 billion) is spent directly on treatment of 25 percent of the Saudi population - diabetes patients.
More broadly, about $26 billion are spent directly and indirectly on diabetes-related issues in Saudi Arabia each year. In short, diabetes is a major public health issue in the Kingdom. Fortunately, creative use of technology is helping to reduce these costs.
Here is our list of some of the most prominent Saudi apps and platforms raising awareness about the importance of healthy lifestyles in the country:
Officially launched in December 2014, Junnah.com is the brainchild of Saudi entrepreneurs Fouad Farhan and Sami Hussein, cofounders of Saudi’s first MOOC platform, Rwaq.
With several apps to chose from, users can track their daily activities, organize their meals, and get advice on how to improve their lifestyle.
Their primary target are those who are clinically obese and suffering from diabetes - that’s 35 percent of the population, and most of their services are free.
As part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, the pharmaceutical company MSD launched this app to target users during the month of Ramadan in 2014.
With huge dietary changes affecting a person’s blood sugar levels, this app allows users to track and record their levels during fasting, and then have them automatically sent to their doctors via email.
The app also several other services for those who are fasting, such as a calendar for Ramadan, highlighting the daily iftar. The app is free.
Global health insurance company Bupa recently launched a bunch of e-health services both on the web and on mobile.
Services for subscribers include medical consultancy, advice, pregnancy tracking, and chronic diseases. All done by 160 qualified doctors in Saudi Arabia who can follow-up on patient cases by phone.
Nesma3k is an app developed by young Saudi Abdulla Fawaz to help those who are deaf and unable to speak to seek help and alert emergency services of their location through the push of a button.
A written message is sent to the relevant emergency services, as well as others previously chosen by the user. Emergency categories including traffic, police, road safety, first-aid, and civil defense.
As well as winning first place at the Mobily App Developers Award in 2013 it is available on Android devices and is free.
Although Medica Reminders is not considered a local app (it was developed by Egyptian company Irwaa), we’re putting it on the list because it reached the final round of Mobily App Developers contest last year.
The user logs their medications, images of the medications (which appear in 3D) and the times at which they are to be administered. The app then acts as a reminder.
Available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, it is free.
6. Saudi Ministry of Health
The Saudi Ministry of Health is also involved. They launched an online portal at the end of last year that included a number of mobile and online apps that offer free educational health services to citizens.
Services include a Vaccination Reminder Service for children based on their age; online health portal Hospitals and Health Centers Assessment; and the Hajj Health Companion. This one provides healthcare advice, info and bulletins from the ministry during Hajj rituals.
[Images via the related websites]