MOH News
Dr. Al-Rabeeah Conveys the Regards of the King to the Mass Gathering Medicine World Conference Participants
21 September 2013
On behalf of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, may Allah protect him; his Excellency the Minister of Health, Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabeeah opened the second International Mass Gathering Medicine Conference on Saturday morning, hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh. It is to last for four days.


In a speech he gave, he said "it pleases me to send the regards and welcome of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, may Allah protect him, who commissioned me to deputize his royal highness as regards the inaugural of this historic conference.


He went on to add that "the Kingdom, may Allah be praised, through its long experience in the health and Mass Gathering Medicine field, managed to deal swiftly and positively with the abrupt emergency, developments, and variables it faces, and fared efficiently and aptlyin that regard. That's to say, the late massive mass gathering the Kingdomdealt with was the Umrah season ,in the past holy month of Ramadan, which, may Allah be praised, made a success in spite of what the world goes through in terms of health challenges, such as Coronavirus and bird flu among others. And now as the Hajj season is nearing, we are optimistic about Allah's guidance that we will make another achievement added to this giving country."

He also assured all that the health situation of the hajj performers is assuring and well, may Allah be praised; pointing out that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is keen to enhance its rich experience in the health and Mass Gathering Medicine field over its long history, through feeling a sense of responsibility towards the massive gatherings which come to it during the Hajj and Umrah season from all over the world. Therefore, the Ministry of Health (MOH) initiated the scientific and training program designated for the Saudi one-year diploma of the Mass Gathering Medicine and disasters; coinciding with the establishing of the Mass Gathering Medicine Scientific Center, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), in the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH); whose prominent tasks are to enrich the scientific research on the Mass Gathering Medicine field, train the health cadres on this field, and provide consultations to other countries.Further, through its previous cumulative experience and its long scientific experience in this field, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is interested in having that conference recommend setting international measures, scientifically dealing with the mass gatherings."

Similarly, he added in that the topic of the Mass Gathering Medicine and human gatherings which was taken up as a title for this conference,and which we hope that it stands as a real start towards guaranteeing the gatherings' safety in any area the world over, on any occasions including hugehuman crowds, is worth being called by this brilliant constellation of the world and specialized scientists, researchers, and experts in the international organizations and the brotherly and friendly countries; in order to draw on them and provide a window on the scientific and practical experiments that were previously dealt with under similar circumstances.All the more, the Kingdom of the Saudi Arabia's Hajj season experiment is to be reviewed as it manages the biggest humangathering within a specific geographical scope and time frame, which is an opportunity of exchanging experience and developing plans and programs on this vital field. This, in turn, ensures the importance of integrity and dealing among the world's scientists in service of the human beings altogether.

He went on pointing out that "as we are on the threshold of a great religious occasionthat concerns the world in its entirety, this honorable attendanceconfirms the role you are tasked with towards the Mass Gathering Medicine and human crowds and keeping abreast with the world's interest in studying what faces these gatherings of health concerns, on top of which are the traditional Coronavirus and other viruses and diseases, in a neutral, scientific standard achieving the practical goal which serves the people's interest without any considerations. He also drew attention to the fact that the Ministry of Health (MOH) affirms its evidence-and-proof-based approach and is committed to cooperation with the world health bodies and organizations topped by the world Health Organization (WHO). It also believes in the principle of transparency which is the approach of this honorable country."


In drawing his speech to a close, "he extended the highly-elevated phrases of thanks and appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, HRH the Crown Prince, and HRH the Second Deputy, may Allah protect them, to the significance they attach to the present-day issues; especially those related to the hajj and Umrah performer's safety, praying Allah, the Sublimely Exalted and the Omnipotent, to crown efforts of the attendance with success."

On a press release just after the opening ceremony, he says that" the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become a world Mecca for the Mass Gathering Medicine and human gatherings, this has been mirrored in the attendance of a massive constellation of their Excellency the ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Arab states, and the world's states as whole; and the participation of the international organizations, of which is the World Health Organization (WHO). It is a thing enhancing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's brand-new experiment which it gained on the Mass Gathering Medicine and human crowds. He also hopes that this experiment will bring a scientific benefit not only to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but also to all the human gatherings the world over."

As regards the MOH's stance on the Coronavirus, he pointed out that "the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) is highly dedicated to collaborating with all the scientific, world, and research bodies, and the Saudi MOH is among the most world's states which conducts researches on the Coronavirus, the latest of which was the study published on " The Lancet" which confirmed that the virus pattern is changing even among the same family members."

He further made clear that "the world's experts convening at this conference will help set a mechanism for more researches; in order to reach not only facts on this virus but also the best prevention methods from it, hoping that an inoculation is made that will safeguard all from this virus."

When fielded a question on the precautionary measures which the Ministry of Health (MOH) set, he pointed out that " the MOH recently went through an occasion, that's to say the Umrah season, as more than five million Umrah performers arrived and performed the Umrah rituals in Makkah. May Allah be praised, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented by the Ministry of Health (MOH), managed to go through this season with smashing success, and without having any epidemiological or quarantine diseases transmit among the Umrah performers. And now as the Hajj season approaches and a good number of hajj performers have arrived; they are, by information, over 200 thousand hajj performers. May Allah be praised;no quarantine or epidemic diseases have been registered."

He went on to add that "the Ministry of Health (MOH) conducted wide-scale studies with the scientific bodies, within the Kingdom or outside, setting health standards and recommendations, distributed to all the world's states. They were uploaded at the MOH portal in Arabic and English. All the same, these recommendations are to be reviewed, and if the experts see that some of them need to be amended, then we will do so, and follow up the situation very accurately. Further, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is considered among the most world's states which conduct a highly accurate epidemiological surveillance, in a show of interest in its citizens' safety in the first place, then those arriving in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, topped by the hajj and Umrah performers."

Meanwhile, he pointed out that "the recommendations are always meant for the coming hajj performers and they are related to dealing, preventing, and avoiding the crowded places. Further, various mass media is to contribute to putting about these recommendations, as well as the social networking which the Ministry of Health (MOH) will capitalize on; in order to convey its message and gather information for its targeted recipients and in any language."

He also affirmed that "broadly speaking, a disease does not discriminate a nationality, ages, or even people; similarly, any person is prone to pick up any virus. Still, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented by the Ministry of Health (MOH), hopes that no one will catch any virus; therefore, it works on protecting and treating them; and providing care for them.  And Allah willing, the world can intercept any viruses coming from any state, calling on all countries to pull together through an evidence-based scientific approach; in order to stamp out this disease and others, and to prevent from them."

For his part, the Assistant Undersecretary for Preventive Medicine, Dr. Ziad Memish said, in a speech he delivered, that "the important geographical location of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has it make all the necessary procedures, in order to provide the best health services to the hajj performers and the visitors of Al-Masjid Al-Haram (the Sacred Mosque)."

He further made clear that "it is no secret to all the health burdens and challenges caused by the infectious diseases causatives, which pose one of the biggest development challenges in the twenty-first century all over the world. He also affirmed the existence of a spate of obstacles and serious health effects, manifested in the emergence of the infectious diseases such asmeningitis, flu, cholera,and allthehemorrhagic feversthat are rapidly spreadon such occasions, as wellas the existence of many other infectious diseases during this century, such as tuberculosis which recently has registered a sharp rise. All the more, there are newly-emerged other diseases, totally obscure to human beings such as   severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002 and 2003, H1N1 flu infection in 2009, as well as themiddle east respiratory syndrome Coronavirus or MERS-CoV in 2012. He pointed out that all these diseases posed a challenge before the public health."
 
He went on saying that "we are experiencing the globalization age making the world seem like a small village through which any infectious disease can be swiftly and widely transmitted such as SARS infection and H1N1 flu. This all the more makes the sticking together of the bodies concerned with public health necessary." 
He made clear that " these massive human gatherings and within a limited geographical area make them scramble to perform the relevant rituals, a thing resulting inthe occurrence of serious injuries that may cause death. Thus, ensuring the safety of all becomes an uphill task. All the same, he pointed out that the diversity of people and their coming from all the world's states, going beyond 150 states in the year, makes the health awareness and proper communication task among all a difficult one. He went to affirm that cooperation and information and experience exchange serve the public interest, this in turn enabled the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to work earnestly to face these challenges, and to hold this conference which was called by many of the world experts and specialists and  the interested in health issues." 
He added that "this conference is considered a golden opportunity of exchanging experience and experiments, drawing up the health policies, and setting the strategies which are instrumental in boosting the public health channels, putting an end to epidemic spread, and  reaching constructive, meaningful, and applicable recommendations."

As regards Dr. Alaa Elwan, the Director of the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO), expressed his thanks and gratitude to his Excellency Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabeeah for accepting the honor of hosting the second international conference on the Mass Gathering Medicine, and the auspices of the Mass Gathering World Center for this meeting, as the Center is one of the centers cooperating with the World Health Organization (WHO) on this field."

He went on adding that "more interest in the Mass Gathering Medicine and its facing for a host of challenges with regard to the public health, whether within this hospitable country or outside, are still on, as the massive gatherings have wide-scale consequences for our health security due to the likelihood increase of the infectious disease spread through these huge gatherings, massive crowds, and the increase of the people's movement. And there is no doubt that the Hajj and Umrah rituals draw highly massive gatherings as they are ranked as the hugest in terms of numbers and crowd. That's to say, more than three million people, hailing from more than 180 states, annually gather in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

On the other hand, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia gained a huge asset of experience and knowledge on the effective management of the health risks that could emerge during the huge gatherings. This experience and knowledge was accumulated over several decades which witnessed the successful planning and the efficient managing for these two annual rituals. Thus, the WHO designated the Preventive Medicine Office in the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) in order to cooperate with the WHO on the Mass Gathering Medicine. This is as a gesture of recognition from the WHO for the ideal job which the Ministry of Health (MOH) did with regard to the successful management of the Hajj and Umrah rituals over consecutive decades. 

All the more, he pointed out that "the second Mass Gathering Medicine conference provides a unique opportunity of launching a virtual network including the institutions and members that share partnerships with the centers collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO) the world over. This conference pulled the world's best experts on the massive gatherings fields and the Mass Gathering Medicine. And I am fully confident that scientific information, knowledge, and experience exchange, as part of this conference, will provide new opportunities leading to more developing for the database which is appropriate for planning, managing, assessing and surveyingpurposes for all the massive gathering occasions, and complying with the standards and measures issued by the WHO. It will also be apt to be applied in all the world's states in the massive gatherings fieldand the Mass Gathering Medicine."





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