MOH News
Activities of the 78th Conference of the GCC Health Ministers Council Kicked off Today Morning in Riyadh
04 February 2015
His Excellency the Minister of Health, Mr. Ahmed bin Aqeel Al-Khateeb, inaugurated on Wednesday morning the activities of the 78th Conference of the GCC Health Ministers Council, which is now held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh. The inauguration ceremony was attended by His Excellency the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Dr. Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani, as well as their Excellency the GCC and Yemeni health ministers, His Excellency the Regional Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Office for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, and a large number of the health leaders in the Gulf countries.
 
In his opening speech, Mr. Al-Khateeb said, "It is my pleasure to welcome all of you to your second country, namely Saudi Arabia. On this occasion, I would like to offer condolences over the demise of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, May Allah forgive him, and I pray for our Almighty Allah to bestow His mercy upon the demised Saudi monarch, and to support the new Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, May Allah protect him, in his attempts to achieve success."
 
It did not escape Mr. Al-Khateeb's notice to thank all attendees and participants for accepting the invitation to attend this conference, which is held under the theme (Measuring Health Systems Performance: the Way to Excellence), expressing his hope that the conference would come up with the desired results, which meet the aspirations and visions of their Highness the leaders, kings and princes of the GCC states.
 
In conclusion, Mr. Al-Khateeb expressed his thanks and appreciation to all organizing committees affiliated to the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Executive Board of the GCC Health Ministers Council for their strenuous efforts to follow up the implementation of decisions and recommendations issued by the GCC Health Ministers Council.
 
Afterwards, His Excellency the Kuwaiti Minister of Health and Chairman of the 39th session of the GCC Health Ministers Council, Dr. Ali bin Saad Al-Obaidi, delivered a speech, during which he expressed his thanks and appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, as well as His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and His Royal Highness the Deputy Crown Prince, Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, May Allah protect them.
 
Dr. Al-Obaidi praised also the great developmental and construction renaissance witnessed by Saudi Arabia, meanwhile thanking His Excellency the Saudi Minister of Health, Mr. Ahmed Aqeel Al-Khateeb, for his hosing of the conference, warm hospitability offered to attendees and efforts exerted to render the conference a success.
Moreover, Dr. Al-Obaidi highlighted that the GCC Health Ministers Council began "on this blessed day" reaping fruits of its great efforts, outstanding achievements and unprecedented bestowals, which resulted in placing the GCC Health Ministers Council and its Executive Board on the world map after winning the global New Era Award for Technology, Innovation and Quality and the Gold Europe Award for Quality and Commercial Prestige for the year (2014).
 
"These two awards, which were won by the council in just a year, are reckoned as a great achievement as they crown the efforts exerted by the GCC countries within years," Dr. Al-Obaidi said, adding that such awards will prompt the Executive Board to continue its strenuous efforts aiming at achieving excellence.
 
In the meantime, Dr. Al-Obaidi congratulated His Excellency the Director-General of the Executive Board of the GCC Health Ministers Council, Dr. Tawfiq bin Ahmed Khoja, on winning the "2014 Arab Integrity Award," a prize granted annually by the Arab Federation for Combating Forgery and Counterfeit, an offshoot of the Arab League, to an Arab personality as an acknowledgement of the winner's noticeable role in the humanitarian, medical, economic and security fields and in appreciation of his integrity and contributions to serving the issues of the Arab peoples and societies.
 
Moreover, Dr. Al-Obaidi congratulated Dr. Khoja on winning the "2015 Arab Health Innovation and Achievement Award," a prize granted as an acknowledgment of the exceptional accomplishments of individuals and organizations working in the medical and healthcare industry in the Middle East and their contributions to the progression in the field of medicine.
 
Dr. Al-Obaidi pointed out that the last session witnessed an accelerated and continuous activation of activities adopted by the technical committees affiliated to the Executive Board, adding that this step helped improve performance indicators in all fields, notable healthcare quality, patient safety, infectious and non-communicable disease control, anti-smoking campaigns, health systems and others.
 
"In addition, numerous Gulf conferences, symposiums and workshops were held on the sidelines of the last session, including 63 meetings by the technical committees, 79 scientific gatherings and two other ministerial conferences that were held in Kuwait and Geneva," he said, adding that the last session witnessed also active cooperation with several regional and international organizations and bodies over the enhancement and development of health strategies and systems, including the World Health Organization, the Arab League and the Council of Arab Health Ministers.
 
Dr. Al-Obaidi pointed out that the Executive Board handed over the outcome of such events to all member states and the relevant Gulf, regional and international bodies and organizations. He also thanked their Highness the leaders of the Gulf States for their ratification of the 2014-2015 Gulf strategic plan, which was updated and approved by the GCC Health Ministers Council to combat non-communicable diseases, during the 35th GCC Summit, which was held in Doha, Qatar in December.
 
"This step will help us in our fight against this critical health issue threatening the Gulf region," said Dr. Al-Obaidi, hailing the other decisions to launch a developmental project and improve work at the Executive Board as per the resolution no. 10 of 2014 issued by the council in Geneva in 2014.
 
Speaking about tenders of unified pharmaceutical procurement for 2014, Dr. Al-Obaidi said the bid value hit 2.755.514.000 dollars with a total of 16 tenders organized to display more than 110,242 medicines and medical supplies. "All GCC member states as well as other governmental health sectors, totaling 22, and 657 companies have partaken in such tenders," he said, adding that the pricing committee finished in 2013 a study over 14 pharmaceutical groups.
 
"During the committee's meetings, 4,263 medicines of different concentrations and packages were priced," said Dr. Al-Obaidi, noting that the total number of medicines, whose prices were approved, amounted to 2,704, given that the drugs with the lowest prices were chosen by the council.
 
Moreover, Dr. Al-Obaidi underlined that the GCC Health Ministers Council has adopted a fundamental principle that the man is the core and target of every economic, social, cultural and health renaissance, stressing the importance of paying due regard to issues on the agenda in order to take the right decision that meets aspirations and expectations of the Gulf citizen.
 
In the same vein, Dr. Al-Obaidi pointed out that the GCC Health Ministers Council is now occupying a distinguished position at the international level due to the high dynamic and well-studied work programs adopted by the council in the past years. "On this occasion, I would like to praise the efforts exerted by the Director-General of the Executive Board of the GCC Health Ministers Council, Dr. Tawfiq bin Ahmed Khoja, to set a specific goal and mission for the council and its executive board to be achieved by us," he said.
 
Meanwhile, Dr. Al-Obaidi noted that the Gulf region is facing major health challenges, represented in the emergence of new infectious diseases endangering the lives and safety of people, as well as the transmission of some pathological patterns due to the behavioral and life changes causing enormous health, environmental and social problems, and the emergence of new health systems. "This prompts us to be on alert and cooperate with each other to face such problems and curb their spread," he said.
 
In conclusion, Dr. Al-Obaidi expressed his thanks and appreciation to their Excellency the health ministers for their close cooperation during the period when he was chairing the 39th session of the GCC Health Ministers Council and wished success for the current session. He also prayed for Allah, the Almighty, to crown the efforts exerted by the council with success in order to meet aspirations of the Gulf peoples.
 
On his part, His Excellency the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Dr. Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani, offered condolences to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, as well as His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, His Royal Highness the Deputy Crown Prince, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, May Allah protect them, and the ruling family and people of Saudi Arabia over the demise of the late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, may Allah forgive him.
 
"By the passing away of the Saudi monarch, the world countries had lost a wise ruler and a prominent leader who wasted his life in serving the Arab and Islamic nations and supporting fair humanitarian issues," said Dr. Al Zayani, praying for Allah, the Almighty, to support King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in his endeavors to continue the distinctive approach adopted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its leading role in serving the issues of the Arab and Islamic nations.
 
During his speech at the opening ceremony, Dr. Abdullatif said “I extend my deepest thanks and gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ government for hosting the events of this conference, and for the ongoing efforts regarding supporting the march of the join gulf work. He also offered thanks to Mr. Ahmed bin Aqeel Al-Khatib , the Minister of Health, and those working along at the Ministry for the hospitality and immense reception and for their distinctive efforts in terms  of arranging and preparing for organizing this conference. Likewise, it pleases me to congratulate him on the royal confidence having him take over the ministry of health portfolio. And, I pray Allah, the Almighty, to bestow upon him guidance and success for hid conscientious efforts and endeavors.”
 
Still, I would like to avail myself of the occasion of holding this conference to welcome Mr. Riyadh Yaseen Abdullah, the brotherly Yemen’s Minister of Health, which the Gulf Cooperation Council’s states harbor for it and its people sincere affection and appreciation. Still, we hope that the legitimate Yemeni state stands on its feet, and that the dear Yemeni territories restore security and stability.  For conspirators tampered with its existence, destabilized its security and spread chaos, violence and terrorism throughout it. And, deliberately and ill-intentionedly, they derailed the peaceful political process which was initiated since 2011 according to the gulf initiative and its executive mechanism. By the same token, I pray Allah, the Almighty, to protect the brotherly Yemen, and have its people enjoy security and peace. I also wish that Yemen would be prosperous and blessed, adhere to its value, Arabism and religion and be an asset and support to its Arab and Islamic nation just as it used to be throughout its glorious history.
 
Dr. Abdullatif added “on this occasion, I cannot help but laud the efforts of Dr. Tawfik A.M. Khoja, the Executive Board’s Director-General of the Health Ministers’ Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and those working along regarding the good preparation for the events of this conference. Similarly, I express my gratitude and appreciation for the efforts made by the Executive Board and the General Trusteeship in the joint health work field in service of the objectives and ends which the GCC seeks to achieve.
 
Further, I extend my deepest appreciation to Dr.  Tawfik Khoja in coordination with the General Trusteeship in order to enhance the joint cooperation relations, within the framework of the Executive Board’s efforts, for restructuring and developing the administrative work and advance it. This mirrors his interest in establishing, positive and effective cooperation between the Executive Board and the General Trusteeship. And, this in turn boosts up coordination and joint work.
 
Within the same vein, Dr. Al Zayani noted “the GCC’s states’ leaders lent the health sector great interest. This interest culminated in the Supreme Council issuing a number of decisions. These decisions aim at upgrading the health services in the GCC’s states, advancing them and providing the health environment appropriate to better life or the gulf citizen.”
 
It is great fortune that this conference is held after the ending of the thirty-fifth round of the GCC Supreme Council, held in last December in Qatar. During this round, a decision was issued approving the updated gulf plan 2014-2015 for preventing from the non-communicable diseases. Still, I hope that your prestigious conference will consider unifying and joining efforts for fighting the emergent epidemics, in manner that boosts up the principle of integration among the Council’s states.
 
As such, I should laud the interest which the health ministries of the Council’s states and the Executive Board lend for following up the implementing of the plan. Still, the updating of this plan and the tangible steps taken by the health ministries of the Council’s states are crystal clear evidence to the scope of the efforts exerted for contributing to limiting dangerous diseases. And, I am fully confident that this topic will remain among the top interests of your respectable ministries and take up your care and ongoing follow-up. 
“In the General Trusteeship, we hope that cooperation an joint coordination will increase with the Executive Board. This aims at developing ongoing communication that materializes the joint objectives we all seek,” Dr. Al Zayani added.
 
Dr. Al Zayani went on saying “your conference in held under the theme “Measuring the Health Systems Performance….Excellence Way”. This emphasizes the GCC states’ health ministries and Yemen for revising their health systems in order to advance and develop them, emulate the world distinct best practice in this field and identify the aspects of insufficiencies for addressing them.”    
 
It pleases me to avail myself of this occasion to congratulate Bahrain, represented by the ministry of health, for winning the health media gulf distinction award 2014. I also wish all more successes in the joint health work fields.
 
Afterwards, at the beginning of his speech, the Executive Board’s Director-General of the Health Ministers’ Council of the GCC, Dr. Tawfik A.M. Khoja extended his thanks and appreciation in person and on behalf of the GCC Health Ministers’ Council and his Executive Board to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz; the King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, his Royal Highness Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz; the Crown Prince and Prime Minister and Mohammad bin Naif; the Crown Prince and second Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Interior, for the Kingdom hosting this auspicious gulf meeting. Similarly, Dr. Khoja expressed his deepest proudness and appreciation to Mr. Ahmed bin Aqeel Al-Khatib, the Minister of Health, for the royal confidence he was granted taking over the ministry of health   portfolio. Dr. Khoja went on praying Allah, the Almighty, to crown his efforts with success and guidance.  
 
Still, Dr. Khoja offered thanks and appreciation to Dr. Mohamed bin Ali bin Hayaza Alhayaza, the outgoing minister of health; engineer Adel bin Mohammed Fiqah; the former acting minister of health, and Dr, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Alrabeeah; the former minister of health, for their efforts during the past period in which they take the helm of the Ministry of Health in the Kingdom. He also commended the hospitality and welcome, well-planned preparation and remarkable organization and work for this important gulf conference.  
 
In a similar fashion, Dr. Khoja lauded the all-inclusive renaissance which the Kingdom sees in all life aspects, topped by the blessed health renaissance, saying “the theme of this conference:  “Measuring the Health Systems Performance….Excellence Way” goes with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) vital, comprehensive concept when it launched it sequentially on the world’s health report under the theme “Improving the Health Systems Performance”. And, the WHO stressed on it in its recent report 2013 under the theme “Comprehensive Health Coverage Researches”. This report includes measuring the health systems performance according to the information and the continuously improved and updated methods as a constant feature in all the WHO’s health-related reports, which it issues annually. Such a method draws on the health systems performance indictors in its seeking to achieve three general objectives: improving health, ability to respond to the population’s aspirations and financial contributions justice. The WHO has put a frame made up of a group of effective means helping the member states measure its performance, understand the factors affecting the performance and improving it.
 
It didn't escape Dr. Khoja's notice to extend earnest thanks and appreciation to His Excellency the Kuwaiti Minister of Health, Dr. Ali bin Saad al-Obeidi, for his wise instructions and insightful views and ideas, as well as his robust support for the GCC member states, the Executive Board, and the Council's committees all through his term of chairmanship, which has just come to an end. “It should come as no surprise that we are witnessing all such impressive Gulf achievements, given the colossal effort exerted by Dr. al-Obeidi to bring them into being,” said Dr. Khoja. “Such achievements include, but are not limited to, the ratification of the GCC Updated Plan for non-Communicable Diseases Control (2014-2025) by Their Majesty the rulers of the GCC members states in the meeting held in Doha last December. The plan, which had been approved by GCC Health Ministers Council, is reckoned crucial for the control of non-communicable diseases, being one of issues of prominence in the Gulf region.”
 
He further added that the total cost of the single procurement tenders mounted to SR 2.755.714.000, in a total of 16 tenders, collectively supplying over 11.242 items of medicines, vaccines and other medical supplies. “In 2013,” Dr. Khoja went on to say, “the Pricing Committee studied 14 therapeutic groups.”
 
He further mentioned that the GCC Health Ministers Council, along with its Executive Board, has won two awards in 2014, namely: The New Era Award for Technology, Quality and Innovation, and Europe Gold Award for Quality. “Added to this,” Khoja expounded, “the Director General of your Executive Board has been awarded the Arab Transparency Award 2014, granted by the Arab Federation for Combating Forgery and Counterfeit, affiliated to the Arab League. That is to be added to the Arab Health Award 2015 for Innovation and Achievement in Healthcare Industry across the Middle East. The award was granted by the Arab Health Fair, organized in Dubai last week.”
 
Over and above, Dr. Khoja stated that the agreement of the Gulf Excellence Award for Health Media has been signed for another session spanning five years, at a cost of annual USD 100.000, with the support of Al-Mahalliyya Public Affairs. This of course comes as a natural outcome of the great success we managed to achieve at the Gulf and regional levels in the first session. Additionally, we have reformed the Expats Medical Screening Regulation. Also, the second phase of e-linking the Expats Program with GCC states and embassies is now accomplished. That is to be added to applying the Biosignature System on all expats, and keeping such information in the expats archives.
 
Within the same vein, he pointed out that the Executive Board held an urgent meeting for officials responsible for prevention and liaison officer in the GCC member states with the aim of taking all necessary actions to address the world outbreak of Ebola virus. The meeting was held in Riyadh on Wednesday, Shawwal 17, 1435H (corresponding to August 13, 2014), at the headquarters of the Executive Board for Preventive and Liaison Officers, under the auspices of His Excellency the then Saudi Minister of Health. The meeting came up with effective recommendations, and pushed towards closer cooperation and more intense coordination with the legal and international organizations, as well as the GCC member states, with a view to better addressing the spread of diseases and epidemics, and hence being in a better position to control and eliminate them. Also, the Updated Gulf Strategic Plan for Tobacco Control (2015-2030) has been approved. All the more, the Gulf Guide for Criteria and Regulations of Cooperation with Gulf Health Associations has been developed. The guide defines the objectives, selection criteria, areas of cooperation, and the roles to be played by the Executive Board, on the one hand, and the given health association on the other hand.
 
Dr. Khoja went on to mention that the past session was characterized by accelerated, ongoing organization and activation of the events and activities adopted by the technical committee pertaining to the Executive Board. Such impressive effort has begun to reap its fruit, as represented in better performance in all areas of action, most notably healthcare quality, patient safety, infection control, combat of non-communicable diseases, tobacco control, and health systems, among other technical programs. 
 
Dr. Khoja was quoted as saying, “The achievements accomplished over the last session would have not come into being but for the help of Allah, in the first place, and continuous patronage and support by His Excellency the Kuwaiti Minister of Health, Dr. Ali bin Saad al-Obeidi, who presided over the Council in its 39th session; and of course but for your prudent directives, and the strenuous efforts of the Executive Board members, as well as the members of technical committees.”
 
“And please allow me to extend special thanks to His Excellency the GCC Secretary General, Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, for his incessant support, and the keen interest he shows in adopting Gulf health initiatives, as well as backing resolutions taken by your esteemed council, whether he takes the lead himself or deputes one of the General Secretariat staff. I would like to welcome him, and to him I extend earnest thanks and profound appreciation for the unstinting support,” said Dr. Khoja. “May Allah guide him towards more achievements and greater successes in the Gulf cooperation in general, and the health cooperation in particular.”
 
Concluding his address, Dr. Khoja expressed his deep gratitude for the heads and members of the participating delegations, as well as the guests, and all who took part in the conference with an idea, opinion or effort that contributed to bring success to the conference. “And I would like to extend special thanks to His Excellency the Saudi Minister of Health, Mr. Ahmad bin Aqeel al-Khateeb, who has never spared effort to carry this conference to perfection,” he said. “I also thank members of the Conference Supreme Supervisory Committee, and all the MOH employees participating in the organizing and technical committees.” He particularly mentioned Dr. Mansour bin Nasser al-Howasi, Vice Minister for Health Affairs and Chairman of the Conference Supreme Supervisory Committee, and Dr. Ali bin Qassim al-Qahtani, Advisor to the Minister of Health for Regions Affairs and Chairman of the Conference Organizing Committee
 
It followed that the former Saudi ministers of health, as well as the Executive Board members, were honored, in recognition of their efforts to support the health development in the GCC member states. After that, the ministers of health signed Riyadh Declaration for Health Systems Measurement, under the theme: “Measuring Health Systems: the Way to Excellence.” It is envisioned to bring about a major advancement in the Gulf Biometrical Program, in quest for realizing the future regional and international aspirations.
 
Following the inauguration ceremony, His Excellency the Saudi Minister of Health, Mr. al-Khateeb, made a press statement in which he expressed his tanks and appreciation for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for the precious, generous trust he entrusted upon him by naming him minister of health. He also thanked His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister, and His Royal Highness the Deputy Crown Prince, Second Deputy of the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior. He mentioned that it was such a pleasure for him to preside over the GCC Health Ministers Conference in its 40th round, where brothers from the GCC member states convened to consider the health issues of high significance in their countries.
 
“I believe this meeting is of paramount importance; it offers a good chance to come together and allocate all potentials and capabilities for addressing the challenges facing the health sector in our countries,” said Mr. al-Khateeb. “The council has already accomplished impressive successes over the past years. For example, it effectively handled the issue of drug single procurement, as well as drug registration. It also brought about significant successes when it comes to the expats’ early screening, to the effect that expats in the GCC member states have been successfully declined. The proportion of unhealthy expats has declined from 30% to less than 5%. We are looking forward to a further decline; notwithstanding the fact that this percentage is the lowest worldwide. Let’s hope this conference will be a success.” 
 
The Minister went on to say, “As a matter of fact, all the matters discussed by the GCC Health Ministers will be, at the end of the day, for the advantage of the citizens and residents of these countries. The GCC member states do not only share language and borders, but also challenges; whether political, economic or health-related. That is why all files are considered and discussed by all health ministers of the GCC states. By consolidating efforts, and gathering the largest possible number of delegations to consider a given problem, its solution is likely to be more cost-effective for each country.”
 
“Meanwhile,” he continued, “we should not forget the successes achieved owing to the colossal efforts exerted by the Council in all health and therapeutic areas, aside from health awareness.” On this occasion, Mr. al-Khateeb cited the honoring of a number of companies with recognized health-awareness efforts, only a few days ago. He reiterated the extraordinary importance of health awareness, placing particular emphasis on primary health care. “It is all about how to protect ourselves against diseases,” he said. “Visiting hospitals on the onset of any symptoms is necessary as well, in order to detect diseases early enough, and prevent any further threats.”
 
So far as the Gulf Portable Health File concerned, the Minister pointed out that the vision do exist, but it will take some time to come into being. It will require all GCC member states to acquire health infrastructure suitable for registering health files in such a system. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for instance, our goal is to maintain a health file in the system for each Saudi citizen, to be accessed at any hospital throughout the Kingdom. This, it goes without saying, requires time to create systems and supply devices, let alone form unification, data entry, and linking public and private hospitals in a single system. Once this mission is done, it would be rather easy to adopt this system, thereby linking the countries to one another.
 
 
 
 



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