MOH News

Dr. Al-Hakeem MOH Exerts Strenuous Efforts to Combat the Spread of AIDS in the Society
04 July 2012
   The Director-General of Communicable Diseases Control, Dr. Raafat bin Faisal Al-Hakeem, has affirmed that the Ministry of Health (MOH) exerts momentous and strenuous efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS in the community, especially vulnerable people.
Dr. Al-Hakeem was quoted as saying, “Every year, we prepare an inventory of all AIDS cases in the Kingdom, from men, women and children. But it is important to take into account that the recorded cases are only the cases discovered, and not the total number of AIDS cases in the Kingdom. There are people suffering from AIDS and don't know about it. Other AIDS cases could not be reached, and, hence, have not been recorded in the National Record.”
He continued, “It is our duty and responsibility to follow up AIDS cases and make every effort in the preparation of curative and awareness programs, with a view to controlling and combating the spread of the disease. This is to be carried out through a number of programs, including the AIDS Detection Program, Early Treatment at Specialized Centers, and the Sexually Transmitted Infection Control Program at primary healthcare centers and hospitals protect infected people from AIDS. That's to be added to the AIDS Health Awareness Program meant to follow up those in contact with patients to ensure infection has not been transmitted to them. There are also fixed and mobile clinics for AIDS-related consultancy and voluntary screening, in addition to expanding surveillance programs to detect emerging infections, and carrying out the epidemiological researches that have to do with AIDS transmission among vulnerable people, beside developing programs for the prevention of infection transmission from mother to fetus, and the prevention of transmission through contaminated needles.” 
 “Thanks to such programs,” Al-Hakeem added, “we took notice of a change of statistics over the past two years. In 2011, 1195 new AIDS cases were detected, out of whom 459 cases are Saudis, and 736 cases are foreigners. The number of Saudis discovered to have AIDS has risen during that year by 4.5% in comparison with those discovered in 2010, and it is less than the number of cases discovered in 2009 by 4.7%, owing to the strenuous efforts made to early detect AIDS cases and provide the proper treatment and prevention services for them.”
He went on to say, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is reckoned one of the countries of low AIDS incidence (2 cases per 10000 people). In order to maintain this ratio all people have to spare no effort to combat infection transmission from patients to those in contact with them, as well as providing decent living for patients, and properly involving them, and their families, in the community, in a way that ensures the rights of both patients and community members.”
Al-Hakeem further expounded, “AIDS cases need for close follow-up at fully equipped specialized centers. Among these centers that could be resorted to for follow-up and complete healthcare of AIDS patients are these centers: the treatment center of King Saud Hospital (Jeddah), the treatment center of King Saud Medical City (Riyadh), the treatment center of Dammam Medical Complex (Dammam), the treatment center of King Fahad Hospital (Madinah), the treatment center of King Fahad Hospital (Al-Hofof), the treatment center of Assir Central Hospital (Assir), and the treatment center of Sebia General Hospital (Jazan), in addition to the treatment centers currently under construction in the Holy City (Makkah).”
Dr. Raafat Al-Hakeem pointed out that the provision of medications is as important as the provision of treatment centers. Thereupon arises the MOH's role in the provision of proper sufficient medicine for patients. This is well reflected in the fact that 100% of cases who have met the treatment conditions receive their treatment for free. Besides, additional doses are kept for potential cases expected to emerge during the year.
 “Work is in full swing to increase the number of qualified cadres at all regions to be compatible with the number of detected AIDS cases, and enhance coordination among all health sectors when reporting new cases, as well as providing accurate information and test results to facilitate reaching patients and conducting the epidemiological surveillance as fast as possible, in addition to promoting the participation of non-governmental sectors and encouraging voluntary organizations to take part in the field of AIDS control,” Al-Hakeem said.
According to Al-Hakeem, the National AIDS Control Program has prepared several plans, programs, studies and researches to keep an eye on the AIDS spread in the society, and set strategic plans for epidemiological surveillance with the aim to detect new cases early and quickly, thus reducing the possibility of infection transmission to the spouse (wife/ husband). These plans include: creating a system for epidemiological surveillance, medical treatment and health care, developing a system for epidemiological reporting and surveillance at treatment centers and linking it electronically to MOH Headquarters for follow-up, expanding the scope of surveillance programs and linking them to the various health centers and hospitals, granting greater opportunity for non-governmental sectors to promote health awareness programs, establishing voluntary societies at a number of the Kingdom's cities (e.g. Jazan and the Eastern Region) following the example of the AIDS Society at the Western Region and Riyadh, and developing the capacity and capabilities of health workers specialized in the field of AIDS control, in addition to conducting epidemiological and behavioral researches, being the cornerstone of the whole process.
Concluding his statement, Dr. Al-Hakeem reiterated that such future plans and programs will prove success, Allah willing, given the fact that the Saudi society is now much more aware of AIDS and its problems than ever. That's to be added to the ongoing efforts meant to raise people's awareness of how to combat AIDS and diminish the risk of infection, as well as the momentous efforts intended to combat defaming and discrimination against AIDS patients and their families. What's definitely more important is to encourage people to make good use of the voluntary testing and consultancy centers (either fixed or mobile). Work is underway to coordinate with the relevant authorities taking part in raising people's health awareness to ensure delivering the proper health messages on how to protect ourselves against AIDS infection by modifying the behavior that could entail infection transmission to us, or transmit infection to others.

Last Update : 08 July 2012 11:43 AM
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