MOH News
MOH Decides the Futility of Adding Drug Testing to the Healthy Marriage Program
13 January 2014
The Director-General of the Genetic and Chronic Diseases Control General Department of the Ministry of Health (MOH), Dr. Mohammed bin Yahia Sa'aidi affirms that adding drug testing to the Healthy Marriage Program has proven futile, pointing out that the scientific committees and relevant bodies has thoroughly considered the issue and concluded with the fact that conducting this testing could fall short of its main purpose as addict can stop doing drugs for a while until his body gets rid of the effect of drugs; and this in turn renders the result useless.
Meanwhile, he remarked that the total number of those tested by the Healthy Marriage Program reached more than 2, 5 million persons since the Program took effect in 1425H, by 270 to 300 persons annually.
He went on to add that the MOH prepared 130 centers distributed to the entire regions and governorates of the Kingdom; to examinethosesoon-to-be married from both genders. On the other hand, the number of laboratories amounted to 91 ones with the aim of taking the testing samples. And, the number of the medical consultation clinics totaled 80 ones; they provide guidance and tips for those in need of them in terms of the injured or those bearing the targeted genetic and chronic diseases.  Further, the number of those working on the Program reached 1120 employees.
Further, he made clear that the Program made major steps resulted in raising the awareness of all the community members, especially those soon-to-be married, to the point that the proportion of the medical consultation response exceeded 60%, pointing out that the Program aims at reaching more than 90%. Also, it targets testing the genetic blood diseases: thalassemia orsickle-cell anemia and infectious diseases: hepatitis B and C and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). In the meantime, the testing results showed that the proportion of those bearing the sickle-cell anemia reached 4, 2% whereas the number of those injured stood at 0, 3%. And the proportion of those bearing the thalassemia was as much as 1, 5% and those injured got up to 0.04%. On the other hand, the proportion of those infected with hepatitis B reached 1% and hepatitis C 0, 2%. And the proportion of AIDS spread stood at 0.03% of the total of those tested.
Within the same vein, he emphasized that the Health Marriage Program, through its centers and clinics, adheres to the quality standards throughout the testing stages as well as maintaining the privacy and confidentiality before, during, and after the testing via the e-registration system. This aims at reaching the goal of the Program regarding rendering families free of the most dangerous genetic and chronic diseases and raising the health awareness among the would-be marriage partners, loosening pressure over the health institutions and blood banks, and avoiding the social and psychological problems of the families whose children suffer. The Program is alsoinstrumental in reducing the financial burdens incurred by treating the injured; to the effect that the annual treatment costs of those suffering from   thalassemiaor sickle-cell anemia estimated at SR 100 thousand, and the cost of transplanting myeloid tissue stands at SR 500 thousand; whereas the cost of the annual treatment for those injured with hepatitis or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) estimated at SR 120 thousand. 
He finally added that the Program does not ban marriage but it provides tips and guidance for the cases not medically reconciled. It gives the medical consultation on the odds of disease transmitting for either partner or children in the future. It also put forward options and alternatives before the engaged in order to help them plan for a healthily sound family while leaving the freedom of completing marriage to the two partners regardless of the testing result. He also pointed out that testing certificate is not handed for those infected with AIDS.

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