MOH News
Fruitful Cooperation between MOH, WHO, and CDC Targeting Control of MERS-CoV
03 December 2014
Fruitful cooperation is underway between the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH), the World Health Organization (WHO), and US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) targeting control of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

His Excellency the Acting Minister of Health, Eng. Adel Faqih, has recently received a number of WHO’s and CDC’s experts, currently visiting the Kingdom upon an invitation from the MOH. This comes within the framework of the ongoing cooperation between the MOH and the international health organizations aiming at combating coronavirus. The meeting shed light on the methods and mechanisms of developing the responding to the risks of coronavirus. Also, the results of the visit made recently by the delegation to Taif were reviewed, as well as their visions about the procedures which the MOH applied for addressing the MERS-CoV cases which emerged there.

Still, three CDC’s experts joined the WHO’s experts headed by the WHO representative in the Kingdom, Dr. Hassan al-Bushra. They spent a week examining a host of MERS-CoV cases recently reported in Taif.

It is mentionable that those experts, with expertise on the outbreak of epidemic diseases, provide consultations to the MOH’s Command and Control Center (CCC). Such consultations have to deal with the efforts of holding back the risk of contracting this life-threatening disease. It turned out that such a disease transfers from camels to humans, who in turn transmit it to one another. Some person-to-person transmission cases have been already reported in health facilities. 

Meanwhile, a CDC’s infectious diseases expert pointed out that in spite of the disease dangerousness, there is no evidence to its wide-scale spread in the society; only scattered cases have been reported thus far. They went on to reiterate the necessity of the MOH keeping on carrying out the stringent monitoring operations and infection preventing and fighting in Taif, and closely tracking it, for fear of new secondary cases emerging; especially given that it is expected that primary cases do occur from time to time.

It is worth mentioning that the international cooperation constitutes the outstanding feature for the efforts made by the Command and Control Center since its inception as unit for “emergency cases response” pertaining to the MOH. To that effect, WHO’s and CDC’s international experts participate in the Center’s internal meetings, and they display the best international practices to the Saudi physicians and public health experts, in charge of responding to the MERS-CoV-related risks and fully ready for addressing the other infectious diseases, such as Ebola virus. Similarly, they proved to be part and parcel of the MOH team during the successful 1435-Hajj season.

Further, with the participation of a number of senior researchers of the Saudi universities, this cooperation boosted the Kingdom’s capacities in terms of effectively responding to the MERS-CoV-related risks. Also, supporting the training processes contributed to reducing the number of the secondary MERS-CoV cases among those working in the healthcare field. Likewise, it is worth noting that ongoing cooperation between the MOH and the WHO and CDC has been built for investigating the causes of the rise in the number of MERS-CoV cases in Taif last month. In addition to this, 814 confirmed MERS-CoV cases in the Kingdom were reported since June in 2012, and they resulted in 350 deaths.

And, with the aim of preventing picking up this virus in the healthcare facilities, the Kingdom developed a comprehensive program covering the entire regions. This program involves procedures and new training programs, as well as advancing the establishments and equipment. Still, the MOH recommends shying away from direct contact with the camels especially those suffering from respiratory symptoms.   And, if you could not help but contact them, you should wear gloves and protective masks used for the first time for reducing the risks of picking up the disease. All the more, all should fully prevent from drinking the unboiled camel milk or uncooked camel meat. 

For more information about MERS-CoV and how to curb its risk, please visit the website of the Command and Control Center (CCC).






 



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