Saudi Arabian officials have completed a six-week program in Taiwan that gave them an opportunity to learn from the nation's experiences in setting up and operating the National Health Insurance program. Saudi Arabia intends to introduce a similar program in the future.
"Saudi Arabia selected Taiwan over Sweden and Germany as the place to send its delegation because Taiwan boasts one of the best national insurance systems in the world and because its population is about the same size as that of Saudi Arabia," said Fahad Jalwi Lzahr, Saudi Arabia's director-general of health insurance.
Jalwi Lzahr said that Saudi Arabia and Taiwan's Institute for Information Industry planned to launch a series of cooperative projects. Possible projects included a training program on health care and insurance information systems, on-the-job training related to health insurance system operations and graduate studies in the health care and health insurance fields.
Jalwi Lzahr led a 13-member delegation, which included 12 health insurance officials from different provinces in Saudi Arabia, which attended the "Health Insurance Professional Development Program for the Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," co-organized by Taiwan's Institute for Information Industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Health and the National Health Insurance Bureau.
The program, which concluded on Thursday, aimed to familiarize the Saudi delegates with the policies and the administration and operational issues that would be essential to the proposed implementation of a Cooperative Health Insurance scheme in Saudi Arabia.
"Taiwan's publicly funded health insurance program is similar to what we would like to establish in Saudi Arabia, while the scheme in Germany is more of an outsourcing program that involves a lot of private companies," Jalwi Lzahr said.
The program included lectures and discussions, as well as on-site visits to various health organizations. The lecture topics included the historical background of the program, the basic framework, health insurance economics, health insurance operations and hospital operations.
The on-site visits were arranged to give members of the delegation an enhanced understanding of the theories, administration, operations and implementation of a publicly funded national health insurance program.
Jalwi Lzahr said, in general, he was happy with the program.
Speaking about the on-site visits, he said he was especially impressed with the success of Taipei Municipal Wanfang Hospital. He said that by the end of the program, the delegates had already been contacted by several Taiwanese pharmaceutical companies, which had expressed an interest in doing business in Saudi Arabia.