MOH News
Dr. Assiri: 134 Pulmonitis Specimen Tested, Results Negative
05 October 2014
The Assistant Deputy Minister of Health for Preventive Health and the Chairman of the Infection Control Platform of the Command and Control Center, Dr. Abdullah Assiri, has reiterated that 234 pulmonitis samples have been tested this year. “All test results were thankfully negative,” he stressed.
 
During the press conference that was held at Mina Emergency Hospital, Dr. Assiri said a protocol on pulmonitis was signed to be effective in this year’s Hajj season, unlike the past year, when two Coronavirus and influenza tests were only done. “Since the start of Dhul-Hijjah till now, 134 pulmonitis samples have been tested; all of them were thankfully negative,” said Dr. Assiri, adding that no disease outbreaks have been reported so far among pilgrims, such as diarrhea and poisoning resulting from the poor storage of food.
 
Speaking about the infection transmission at health facilities, Dr. Assiri said, “The hospital-acquired infection is a global issue, regardless of the type of health services provided therein.” He underlined that some hazards exist due to the medical interventions carried out when hospitalizing a patient, noting that the best internationally-approved means to control any infection is to train health workers on ways of combating it and to provide all hospitals with anti-infection programs and requirements. “These measures should target all health workers, except for those assigned to monitor the infection control efforts,” he said.
 
Dr. Assiri went on to add, “We are focusing on a number of the most spreading infectious diseases inside the health facilities, such as blood, surgical and catheter-associated urinary tract infections.” He highlighted that the ministry applies certain methods of prevention when dealing with these infections. “To totally prevent the infection might not be always available; that’s why we use some methods to curb the infection instead. This is the ultimate goal of all infection control programs,” stressed Dr. Assiri.
 
“Following the past year’s increasing number of Coronavirus cases and the reports that many Coronavirus infections were transmitted at health facilities, the ministry decided to support efforts aimed at controlling infections at health facilities through providing highly-qualified cadres, training courses and equipments needed to handle the disease,” Dr. Assiri said, adding that for that reason, the Infection Control Platform was established inside the Command and Control Center to shed light on these efforts and provide human and financial support; that is to be added to the foreign expertise needed to provide trainings in this field.
 
In the same vein, Dr. Assiri underlined that an ambitious training program was launched to train all health workers at more than 418 hospitals, mostly of the Ministry of Health. He noted that many other hospitals are covered by the program. “There are five medical teams from Canada, Turkey and Europe, who were visiting many facilities and staying there for a week,” said Dr. Assiri. “During their stay period, the medical teams were training health workers on infection control means and the hospitals’ infection control sections on ways to follow up the health workers’ commitment to infection control measures,” he added, noting that the priority was given to the hospitals of Makkah, Jeddah and Madinah to prepare them ahead of the Ramadan Umrah season and the Hajj period.
 
In addition, Dr. Assiri pointed out that the future plan for the infection control training program will be accredited so far, noting, “After the training period is over, some fixed teams will be deployed to check on trainees’ commitment to what they received in the training program. “These teams will be made up of Saudi cadres, including the first batch of the Infection Control Diploma Program, who graduated a year ago, along with the second batch to be graduated four months later,” Dr. Assiri said, noting that these cadres have received a high-level training.
 
“The dilemma is that there are no enough cadres to cover all health facilities in the Kingdom,” said Dr. Assiri, stressing that these cadres, however, will be a nucleus of more medical teams, which will be permanently deployed and will periodically visit all health facilities. “If an issue was reported inside a health facility, regular visits will be made till this issue is solved,” stressed Dr. Assiri, pointing out that the most serious obstacle facing us in our war against infections is “commitment”. He made clear that all health workers know the basics of infection control, but they may forget them due to work pressure, forgetfulness and ignorance. “For that reason, they are in need of continued reminders and training in order not to forget such basics,” highlighted Dr. Assiri.
 
Answering a question on the MOH’s application of the principle of reward and punishment to the employees showing no commitment to infection control basics and methods inside the health facilities, Dr. Assiri said, “The principle of reward is usually more effective than punishment.” “Before punishing employees, we should first brief them on the basics,” stressed Dr. Assiri.
 
He went on to add that the ministry tends to apply the principle of reward because there are many hard health workers with a good performance. “In order to stimulate those health practitioners to show more commitment, we should offer them an excellence allowance, that’s to be added other incentives, such as allowing them to attend anti-infection conferences,” Dr. Assiri said, noting that these incentives are very important to help health practitioners stick to infection control methods.
Speaking about the tasks of the Command and Control Center’s Infection Control Platform and the Health Facilities Infection Control General Department, Dr. Assiri said the center is tasked with setting the frameworks and general policies of work as well as guidelines, while the department acts as an administrate body. “There is no doubt that the center gives the department a lot of support,” he said.
 
Answering a question on the spread of Coronavirus and the change of its pattern as result of the MOH’s measures, Dr. Assiri said the virus emerged as an infection at the beginning, and then it expanded inside the health facilities due to the presence of a secondary infection. “Since May 15, no Coronavirus cases were thankfully reported among health workers,” said Dr. Assiri, highlighting that this achievement should be first attributed to the grace of Allah then to health workers’ realization of the importance of controlling the infection and protecting themselves. He underlined that this realization cam as result of intensified training courses and awareness campaigns in mass media.
 
In the same vein, Dr. Assiri highlighted that the training program, which is offered to health practitioners participating in this year’ Hajj season, focused on Coronavirus and Ebola disease. “The health workers were trained on ways to diagnose both diseases and protect themselves,” said Dr. Assiri, noting that as many as 20 isolation rooms were added to East Arafat Hospital, in addition to 50 rooms already present at the Holy Sites area. Furthermore, Dr. Assiri added that the ministry has provided hospitals with 35 high-level air-purifying filters, thus increasing the rooms’ capacity by 50% this year.
 
Speaking about the Mobile Laboratory of East Arafat Hospital, Dr. Assiri said it is an integrated laboratory for testing Coronavirus, adding that there is another laboratory in Jeddah Hospital in Makkah, which works since the last year. “This lab has been improved this year to work in full capacity,” he said.
 
As for the MOH’s measures to handle the issue of camels on Mount Arafat, Dr. Assiri said there is no doubt that the camels play a role in the transmission of Coronavirus to humans. “For that reason, a memorandum of understanding was signed with the two municipalities of Makkah and Holy Capital to control the entry and exit of camels at the Holy Sites area through allocating a certain place for slaughtering camels,” said Dr. Assiri, noting that coordination was made with the Islamic Development Bank and Makkah Municipality to train butchers on ways of protecting themselves while slaughtering camels.
 
“We did our best to totally prevent the slaughter of camels, but we did not succeed in our endeavors because camels constitute a large proportion of sacrifices in Hajj,” said Dr. Assiri, noting that Makkah Prince has issued strict directives preventing the indiscriminate slaughter, whether for camels or any other animal.
All the more, Dr. Assiri highlighted that Coronavirus is transmitted to humans in three patterns; the first one is the direct contact with infected camels, while the second is to develop the infection at a health facility. “The third pattern is the infection of unknown origin,” said Dr. Assiri, noting that all current infected cases have links with camels.
 
As for the coordination between the MOH and the international medical centers regarding Coronavirus, Dr. Assiri said, “Since the very onset of Coronavirus, a WHO representative has come to the Kingdom. Besides, WHO is always represented at the Command and Control Center; that is to be added to the foreign missions that hailed to the Kingdom, and prepared their reports on the disease. Furthermore, there is ongoing communication with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in addition to other international universities and centers.
So far as the number of pilgrims examined this year, he stated that this year's examination focused on East Africa's pilgrims in the first place, with a special emphasis on Nigerian pilgrims, as well as the pilgrims who passed across Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone, even though they are not from these countries. As many as 70.000 thousands have been screened.
 
 Dr. Assiri mentioned, besides, that the percentage of commitment to anti-meningitis vaccination amounted to 82-85% over the past years, owing to political unrest sweeping through some countries. It was for this reason that MOH has made up the shortfall, by vaccinating the pilgrims coming from of the African Belt countries (7 countries) against this bacterial disease. In this regard, about 331.000 pilgrims have been vaccinated.
 
Within the same vein, the commitment to anti-yellow fever vaccination has been rather high; it is difficult for a pilgrim to depart his country until vaccinated against the disease. That is why the percentage of commitment amounted to 99.6%. So far as poliomyelitis (polio) is concerned, there are 9 countries stricken by the disease. These countries are required to vaccinate their countries, and provide them with vaccination certificates. Not only that, they are also given oral vaccine on their arrival to the Kingdom. The number of pilgrims given this vaccine this year amounted to 361.000 pilgrims, with a commitment percentage of 99.4%.
 



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