MOH News
Minister of Health: “KSA Free from ‘Ebola’ Virus”
13 August 2014

​His Excellency the Acting Minister of Health, Eng. Adel bin Mohammed Faqih, addressing the Gulf coordination meeting held in Riyadh concerning Ebola virus 2014, has confirmed that “the Kingdom is free from Ebola virus, thanks be to Allah.”   

He explained that the Ministry of Health, as well as all its concerned health sectors and departments, got prepared for Hajj and Umrah season long time ago, and have harnessed all material, human and logistic capabilities to have a Hajj season free of epidemic events, Allah willing.
 
He pointed out that the accumulated experiences of the Kingdom over the previous years make them proud of the coordinated efforts in which each sector plays its role, and carries it to perfection, meanwhile pursuing a considerable scientific methodology.
 
He said, “We are not isolated form the emergent events around us; that is why we take them into consideration and make ourselves well prepared and organized for them. In this spirit, the National Center for Command and Control was established at the Ministry of Health to address such circumstances.” 
   
Eng. Faqih lauded the prompt response of the Executive Office of the GCC Health Ministers Council to the events, and the call for this important Gulf coordination meeting to exchange views and experiences and come up with a unified Gulf stance, as well as consolidating the great and successive efforts exerted by the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, may Allah bless him, over several months now with a view to preventing of the virus at the national, Gulf and international levels.
  
He added, “It is no doubt that we as a one Gulf have one goal, and that the health of the citizen is reckoned our rulers' top priorities, may Allah bless them, and that everything pales into significance compared to preserving health for all citizens and residents. This noble message is the main concern of the rulers.”
 
In his speech, he stressed that the recommendations of the meeting should be practical and realistic, with neither exaggeration nor underestimation.
 
“Whatever you agree upon will be put into action, Allah willing,” he said, meanwhile underscoring to the importance of the utmost utilization of the latest developments by the diseases control centers, World Health Organization (WHO), and international health organizations in this respect. 
 
Eng. Faqih has expressed his happiness about such Gulf unity, and about the meeting at the headquarters of the Executive Office, in pursuit of providing the correct information and boosting the efforts that have been made previously by the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, may Allah bless him, in the form of the decisions, precautionary and preventive measures, readiness and vigilance, as well as providing the tips and recommendations which back up our efforts and national plans, and help us to fully perform our mission, Allah willing.
 
Furthermore, he underlined the importance of “bearing in mind the directives of the GCC rulers, may Allah bless them, and making every effort to strengthen and enhance the joint Gulf action as a prelude to reach the fully fledged Gulf unity, Allah willing, at the behest of our rulers.”
 
On his part, Director General of the Executive Office of the GCC Health Ministers Council Dr. Tawfeeq bin Ahmed Khoja said the meeting aimed at reviewing and discussing the latest international developments regarding the outbreak of the Ebola disease and exchanging expertise at the Gulf, regional and international levels concerning the precautionary measures, preparedness, monitoring and response to any emergency case.
 
"The meeting tackled also the outlines of the Gulf Framework (Prevention, treatment and precaution) upon suspicion and discovery of any case as well as the unified Gulf stance for addressing all aspects, i.e. prevention and precautionary measures, travel ban and suspension of work visas for those coming from the Ebola-hit countries," according to Khoja.
 
 The meeting also aimed at furthering cooperation among the Gulf States in the field of combating the emerging diseases, thus activating one of the Council Message's terms adopted in such circumstances, and the possibility of releasing a unified Gulf media report because of the successive requests coming to the Executive Office from the scientific bodies and media outlets.
 
He called for taking a number of appropriate measures to interact with this important event, where the Executive Office plays an important role to intensify and coordinate the efforts, activities and links among the member states through the exchange of information, plans and measures to combat the virus, and also provide the Council states with the latest available information, either from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, USA, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Global Alert and Response Center (GAR), news agencies or others.
 
"The member states are being updated with any new developments concerning the virus," Khoja said, adding that  a special page for Ebola virus has been created in the Executive Office's website which includes links to the international related sites, latest scientific lectures in this field, important articles, media and press releases issued in the Council states and direct contacts with the liaison officers in all GCC states. The council states requested that the site should support all their exerted efforts for the protection of the Gulf citizen against this disease.  
 
Dr. Khoja added that messages are sent on a constant basis to members of the executive body and officials of the GCC ministries of health via mails and social networking application (WhatsApp) concerning the developments and outbreak of Ebola disease at the African and international level. He noted that the members of the executive body have been notified of all available links to the sites concerned with this matter, which include many interim scientific materials such as plans, strategies, standard evidences, and communication mechanism with the members of the health team, media and the public, as well as the frequent questions, precautionary and preventive measures and preparedness for such an epidemic. Also, the Executive Office has made a poster about the disease and means of its transmission and prevention as well as integrated and comprehensive files about Ebola, including all aspects related to prevention and precautionary measures, such as ways of burial and disposal of human waste and others.
On his part, Assistant Deputy Minister for Preventive Health Dr. Abdullah Asiri said that the samples of the deceased Saudi national, may Allah rest his soul in peace, that were tested at a German laboratory, were negative for the Ebola virus and the laboratory will do further tests to investigate the case.
 
"Till now, we do not have decisive diagnosis," Asiri said in a worksheet titled "Facing Ebola Virus, Response of the Ministry of Health in the Kingdom". This comes in the context of the coordination meeting of the prevention officials and liaison officers concerned with the Ebola virus in the GCC states.
 
Dr. Asiri pointed out that 95% of the pilgrims come through the airports and a small portion of them come through the sea and land ports, adding that all the council states have an accredited and applicable guidebook for policies and procedures against the hemorrhagic fever.
 
"Such guidebooks cover all types of the hemorrhagic fever, including Ebola," said Asiri, pointing out that the Ministry of Health, after the announcement of the first suspected case of Ebola virus, has followed up two ways to combat this disease; namely, it focused on public health and cleanness of health facilities.
 
He said the contact people within the family, place of work and health facilities have been counted, noting that the number of the contacts in the family and place of work reached about 41, while the health practitioners hit nearly 82 after the appearance of the symptoms of the disease at many health facilities. "All of them are still within the limit of 21days to follow up their health condition continuously," said Asiri, adding that they developed no symptoms until now.



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