MOH News
MOH Labs Beefed up to Serve Pilgrims
03 October 2014
The Assistant Deputy Minister of Health for Supportive Medical Services and the Supervisor of Laboratories, Nursing and Nutrition during Hajj, Dr. Munirah bent Hemdan al-Esseimi, has stressed that the Ministry of Health (MOH), as part of its endeavors to implement the directives of His Excellency the Acting Minister of Health Eng. Adel bin Mohamed Faqih, is going to establish a high-quality laboratory inside the Holy Sites area to examine the epidemic and infectious diseases.
Dr. al-Esseimi made the statements during a press conference that was held yesterday at the Emergency Tower Hospital in Mina over the new mobile laboratory of East Arafat Hospital, which was allocated to examine the epidemic and infectious diseases in Hajj, such as Coronavirus. “The lab was equipped with the needed devices and manpower,” said Dr. al-Esseimi, pointing out that the current situation requires the presence of such kinds of high-quality and technological labs. “The future plans target establishing a permanent high-quality lab inside the Holy Sites,” she noted.
Speaking about the situation of laboratories and blood banks during the Hajj season, Dr. al-Esseimi said all laboratories in Makkah and the Holy Sites have been prepared and equipped with modern devices a long time ago. She underlined that the total number of employees working in the Holy Sites' labs hits 840 (736 Saudis and 104 non-Saudis). They represent 3.54% of the total number of the seconded manpower in Hajj.
Furthermore, Dr. al-Esseimi pointed out that the ministry has provided a number of medical labs to serve the Holy Sites' area in the Hajj season, including the Regional Laboratory and the Central Blood Bank in Makkah, as well as the laboratories of hospitals located in Makkah and Holy Sites, in addition to the mobile laboratory.
Speaking about the way of examining the infectious diseases, Dr. al-Esseimi said the Coronavirus samples are transferred from the hospitals of Makkah and Holy Sites to the Regional Laboratory in Makkah and the Mobile Laboratory at East Arafat Hospital respectively.
As for the blood banks, Dr. al-Esseimi said there are thankfully sufficient blood units in the Kingdom, noting that the number of blood units and its products hits nearly 15,200, including red blood cells, platelets and plasma. In the same vein, Dr. al-Esseimi highlighted that a plan is underway to transfer remaining blood units to the Blood Bank in Makkah. “In case of need, more blood units will be transferred from the nearby health regions,” she stressed.
In addition, Dr. al-Esseimi lauded the Saudi nationals’ response to blood donation campaigns, which are launched at the Holy Sites’ hospitals during the Hajj season with the participation of wide-ranging sectors. “Such campaigns seek to provide blood units and platelets,” she said.
Dr. al-Esseimi shed also light on the Screening Program for Bus Drivers “Yaqiz”, which is launched annually by the MOH upon the directives of His Royal Highness the Prince of Makkah, who heads also the Higher Committee for Observing Pilgrims' Transportation. “In this year, the ministry managed to link samples electronically, i.e. the process of receiving and analyzing samples and delivering results will be done electronically,” she said.
“Through this program, samples are taken from bus drivers to assess the prevalence of any prohibited materials (drugs),” Dr. al-Esseimi said, pointing out that this step is carried out along the road linking Makkah to Madinah, Jeddah and Holy Sites with the aim of securing pilgrims’ trip along these routes.
She also revealed the results of bus drivers' examinations for this year, pointing out that some 13,934 samples have been tested in Makkah and Madinah till Thursday, Dhul-Hijjah 8th. “Of all, 32 samples were positive,” said Dr. al-Esseimi, highlighting that the positive cases were prevented from assuming work for precautionary reasons.
As for the Nursing Committee, Dr. al-Esseimi said several preparatory and periodic meetings have been held throughout the year to discuss the health updates from a technical perspective; that is to be added to revising and updating the work mechanisms of the committee, reviewing the ministry’s needs of seconded nurses, offering help and consultations over the committee’s role in Hajj and providing references for any problems that might emerge in the Hajj season.
“A draft questionnaire on the seconded nurse’s opinion was updated and enforced,” Dr. al-Esseimi said, adding that all sites have been provided with a guide on the work policies of those seconded to work in the Holy Sites. Meanwhile, Dr. al-Esseimi noted that the total number of nurses working in this year’s Hajj season is 6,825. “This figure stands for 28.27% of the total number of those assigned to work in the Hajj season,” she said. “Of all, there are 4137 Saudis (2411 male and 1762 females)”.
Still, Dr Al Osaimi pointed out that the total of the workforce of the Subspecialties Program “Intensive Care Nurse” amounted to 320 nurses, of which there are 240 Saudis and 80 non-Saudis.
As regards the nurses worrying about taking part in the Hajj season after the outbreak of Ebola, Dr. Al Osaimi said “the health practitioners are determined to take part in serving the Hajj performers, believing in what is ordained by Allah, the Almighty.   In addition to this, they are educated on all the diseases, and they received specialized courses in infection control, safety requirements, and prevention means wearing, among others.  
Similarly, Dr. Al Osaimi remarked that in the recent years, it is noticed that the Saudi female element of the health practitioners taking part in the Hajj season has remarkably increased.
As far as the nutrition situations are concerned, Dr Al Osaimi affirmed that there ten sites where more than 550 nutrition workers work for preparing and cooking food. They are supervised by nutrition specialists, and work is followed by monitoring cameras. This aims at guaranteeing the safety of the meals, following up the supervision staff and labor performance quality and detecting the irregularities when occurring as a modern technological means. In addition to this, all the equipment has been provided to them, and all the catering staff has been trained on applying the health requirements by a specialized company. Still, the computing system has been initiated in some of the sites that need to have this system reactivated. 
Within the same vein, Dr Al Osaimi made clear that more than 70 secondees with nutrition-related specialties have been assigned for supervising the nutrition service sites. To that effect, all the nutrition services in the hospitals have been provided with female Saudi nutritionists for supervising the food halls designated for females. They are numbered eight. Similarly, therapeutic nutritionists, numbering ten, have been assigned in the eight sites. She also noted that the workforce has been subjected to the medical examination by the preventive medicine.    
Finally, Dr Al Osaimi unveiled that 105.825 meals have been redeemed to the ten sites by the end of the sixth of Dhu al-Hijjah, as well as providing the tube feeding for the intensive care patients in the hospitals of the Holy Sites, which include many illness cases.

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