MOH News
Response to Medical Advice Offered by the Healthy Marriage Program on the Rise
28 January 2015
The Director-General of Genetic and Chronic Diseases Control, Dr. Muhammad Saidi, explained that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia aims to provide an international role model in applying the Healthy Marriage Program, with a view to building a society free from genetic diseases. To that end, royal directives have been made it mandatory for all those intending to marry to undergo premarital screening in order to ensure the safety of the family, and protect the coming generations against infectious diseases.    
He said that, out of the 3 million premarital screenings conducted to date, the ratio of those who responded positively to the medical advice offered by the Healthy Marriage Program, and accordingly refrained from marriage due to physical incompatibility, has risen from 9.2% to 60%. 
Dr. Saiedi confirmed that refraining from marriage, based on the Program’s advice, is attributed to the great understanding and raised awareness shown by members of the society, adding that the Healthy Marriage Program receives about 270.000 – 300.000 persons a year. 
He went on saying that the Ministry of Health (MOH) conducts premarital screening through the Healthy Marriage Program, which covers 5 diseases: namely, sickle-cell anemia, thalassemia, and hepatitis (B and C), in addition to HIV/AIDS. He pointed out that the incidence of the diseases covered since the inception of the program in 1425H is as follows: sickle-cell anemia reached 4.2% (disease carrier) and 0.3% (infected); thalassemia reached 1.5% (carrier) of  and 0.3% (infected); hepatitis B 1%, and hepatitis C 0.3%, while HIV/AIDS recorded 0.02%.
He went on to say that in each of the screening centers, there is a qualified team who abides by the high quality standards. It should be noted that the Ministry has fully prepared 130 screening centers, in addition to 20 centers pertaining to other government agencies, and 91 laboratories and 80 consulting clinics, to be added to 1120 persons with different specialties working for the program.
It is noteworthy that the program aims at limiting spread of certain genetic and infectious blood diseases, and alleviating the financial burden resulting from treatment of the infected, as well as reducing pressure on the health institutions and blood banks. It also seeks to avert social and mental problems for families with sick children, and save the embarrassment felt by some peoples to request this test, let alone to raise the awareness on the concept of the comprehensive healthy marriage.  
In this context, the Council of Ministers Decree No. 4/B/45404, dated 15/11/1424H, emphasizes that premarital screening is compulsory, meanwhile making it optional to go ahead with marriage regardless of the test result, alongside with organizing awareness campaigns for all citizens on the benefits of this test.

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