MOH News
Dr. Mariam Al Jalahma Lauds the Good Organization of the Ceremony of the Gulf Excellence Award in Health Media
04 February 2015
The Assistant Undersecretary for Primary Care and Public Health in the Kingdom of Bahrain and the member of the Executive Board of the GCC Health Ministers Council, Dr. Mariam Al Jalahma, indicated that  the 78th Conference of the GCC Health Ministers Council to be held in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and Thursday  15th - 16th Rabei II 1436 H, corresponding to 4th - 5th February 2015, is reckoned one of the most important conferences organized by the GCC Health Ministers Council as it comes  under the theme: “Measuring Health Systems’ Performance: the Way to Excellence”. Still, the health systems include all missions and tasks of the ministries of health in order to develop health services.
Meanwhile, Dr. Al Jalahma explained that developing health system means the tendency of ministries of health to improve their work and then provide services with high efficiency and quality. She pointed out that the health systems performance includes tackling the issue of quality and patients safety, setting indicators for monitoring the performance of the health systems, as well as the comprehensive health coverage and ways of financing health services and their continuation.
Regarding the meeting of the Executive Board of the GCC Health Ministers Council before the get-together of health ministers, Al Jalahma indicated that the Executive Board has prepared draft resolutions for the most important technical issues, which were discussed including fighting communicable and chronic diseases which top the priorities of the projects and programs of the ministries of health for being the main causes of death in GCC countries. To that effect, she added the rulers of the GCC countries have approved the unified GCC plan submitted by the GCC Health Ministers Council in this regard.
"The indicators set for this plan are based on the World Health Organizations (WHO) standards. The countries are dealing with this plan as a political commitment to reducing death rates resulting from these diseases," she said.
Further, she explained that the tackled issues included also anti-smoking efforts as the tobacco use is one of the most important factors leading to cancer. In this regard, she said several initiatives to enable these countries to control smoking were discussed, including imposing internal fees on tobacco products to reduce their consumption. In addition, she said the meeting discussed the issue of occupational health, as new standards were set for the workers in the hospitals and health centers to ensure a safe occupational environment for them.
In a similar fashion, Dr. Al Jalahma extended her deepest thanks and appreciation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, especially the Ministry of Health, for hosting this conference, offering warm hospitality to the participating delegation and good organization of the event, affirming that she personally touched the high-level organization, represented in the careful arrangement for the meetings of the Executive Board and the provision of all required logistics.
"We have been impressed by the distinguished organization of the Ceremony of the Gulf Excellence Award in Health Media. What drew my attention is the usage of technology, represented in the provision of computer devices for all the members of the Executive Board and the manner adopted in the presentation of topics on the agenda and lectures," she elaborated.
All the more, Dr. Al Jalahma expected the Riyadh Declaration, which will be issued by the Conference of the GCC Health Ministers Council, to include whatever ensures developing health services in these countries, in addition to decisions related to health and drug issues.
Additionally, she noted that the conference focused on vital and important issues, adding that there is a tendency by the World Health Organization to secure comprehensive health coverage worldwide and push the countries to provide free and advanced health services for citizens without forcing them to pay healthcare costs.
"The conference discussed sustainability of funding to face the increasing costs of treatment, drugs, medical equipment and human resources as GCC countries seek to continue funding health services. In addition, the talks will tackle health insurance, which gives citizens several options, achieves competitiveness amongst the health sectors and stops wasteful dispensing of medicine and tests, provided that treatment protocols based on evidences must be set. And this is the challenge which faces the ministers of health," she said.
Additionally, Dr. Al Jalahma said that the conference placed particular emphasis on the primary healthcare services, considering them as entry gate to health, given the low cost. Thus, she called for long-term investment in these services under the theme: "Protection is better than cure." She added that “by focusing on preventive services, free and early detection of diseases, setting an effective referral system which ensures referral of the patient according to his actual health needs, much money is likely to be saved.”
She went on saying that the Kingdom, with its advanced health services, is moving in the right direction in this regard. It has a plan for the expansion of primary healthcare, despite geographic breadth, to reach citizens in their whereabouts. In addition, she said the Kingdom is also characterized by having specialized medical centers and private medical sector, which could be invested as a destination for medical tourism; this could also serve as a promoter for medical tourism across the Arab World. She added the Kingdom also shows keen interest in adopting health accreditation programs, and in this spirit the Central Board for Accreditation of Healthcare Institutions (CBAHI) was established. It has been accredited recently as a pilot and reference center for the entire Gulf.
Within the same vein, she said that the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCHS) is a source of pride per se, as it ensures providing the Kingdom with qualified national calibers for providing the services. 
"The Kingdom of Bahrain benefited from these advanced services and the specialized medical centers,” she continued. “That’s because there is cooperation between the two countries to treat some Bahraini patients; either in the private or government health sectors. Besides, there is cooperation in exchanging expertise, as we trust Saudi competencies and invite them as visiting physicians.” 
Concluding her address, Dr. Al Jalahma said, “We are very proud of the competencies in Saudi Arabia. And truth to tell, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows keen interest in competencies and developing national cadres through various training and qualification programs.”

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