MOH News
MOH Announces Completion of the First Phase of the Seasonal Flu Control Program
16 February 2015
The Ministry of Health (MOH) celebrated Sunday the completion of the first phase of the Seasonal Flu Control Program’s plan. Present were the Deputy Minister for Public Health; Dr. Abdulaziz bin Saeed, the WHO representative in the Kingdom, the Council of Cooperative Health Insurance Secretary-General and representatives of the regions and governorates, private health sector and medical scientific associations.
Addressing the ceremony, Dr. bin Saeed said, “Months ago, Dr. Aesha al-Shammari, the head of the MOH Inclusive National Immunization Program, submitted to the Minister of Health a plan targeting the vaccination of about 500.000 health workers who are vulnerable to risk factors. Still, when we numerically compared that plan to the last year’s one, the goal proved highly ambitious as last year’s target was 100.000 people. Back then, we launched the Program, and started the vaccination campaign, and we were pressed for time. Likewise, the vaccination campaign coincided with the emergence of MERS-CoV cases, other health aspects and many public health programs. But, May Allah be praised, we went beyond the goal set to the effect that more than 600 thousand people were vaccinated.”
Still, Dr. bin Saeed noted that the MOH set out to develop a plan for the next year in which the number targeted will be determined. And, we will be committee to accomplishing this number, Allah willing.
Concluding his speech, Dr. bin Saeed extended thanks to the bodies participated in the campaign for their strenuous efforts and their effective contributions to making a success of the current season of vaccinating against the seasonal flu. He went on lauding the key role the MOH’s officials and health affairs directorates played. Also, he commended the effective role played by the partners interested in the public health, such as the WHO, Council of Cooperative Heath Insurance and science associations. This in turn was instrumental in making a success of the first phase of the Flu Control Program, and in achieving the intended objectives and results, which are consistent with the MOH’s plan involving raising the society’s awareness to the importance of vaccination seen in the huge turnout for vaccinating.  
For its part, the WHO praised the Kingdom’s leading role in applying the public health standards, and its interest in the society’s health with all its segments combined.
On his speech at the celebration, the WHO representative in the Kingdom, Dr. Hassan Albushra said, “Bringing up the issue of a vaccine against the flu is new. In the past, the familiar vaccines were discussed. Today, people’s thinking and behavior has witnessed a drastic change. That’s to say, many, not only in the Kingdom but also all over the world, see the flu as normal cold and not fatal disease. And, this requires a great deal of work.”
“I congratulate the staff of the MOH Public Health Agency in the Kingdom, spearheaded by Dr. Abdulaziz bin Saeed, Dr. A’ayshah Alshmri, MOH’s work team and all those participated in making this success. They proved there is no impossibility, and strong resolves come in proportion to men of determination. We should reflect upon this success, and look at the factors instrumental in this success and the challenges faced. What lessons are learnt, how to capitalize on this success more and how to maintain this success in order to make other successes in the next year, Allah willing,” Dr. Albushra added.
Still, the Assistant Deputy Minister for Preventive Health, Dr. Abdullah A’ssairi presented an overview about the campaign, on behalf of  Dr.A’ayshah Alshimr. The overview touched upon the MOH’s plan for controling the flu for the next five years. He also recited statistics about the accomplishments of the regions and governorates in terms of applying the Flu Control Program, and the vaccination coverage rate of the current season’s targeted groups 2014-2015.
Similarly, marking this occasion, a group of students presented a song which was acclaimed by the attendance. Then, they took photos with Dr. Abdulaziz bin Saeed and a number of officials.
Concluding the ceremony, Dr. bin Saeed handed out the certificates and shields to the distinguished from the private and governmental sector and the partners interested in the public health. He further urged all to keep cooperating to guarantee the next season’s success, Allah willing. 
For her part, Dr. Aesha al-Shammari noted that the objectives of the first phase for the vaccination against the flu campaign involved objectives relate to the awareness campaign, such as raising the society’s awareness with the importance of vaccinating the seasonal flu. For vaccination has clear, tangible effect on reducing the rate of developing the disease and its dire complications, and this is evidenced in the WHO’s studies and reports.  It also increases the health field workers’ awareness in vaccination as it acts as prevention for them and their patients and families. And, this makes them urge their patients of the targeted groups to vaccinate. 
“The campaign also included the vaccination-based objectives, such as vaccinating all the health workers in term of physicians, nurses, techicians and administrators. It involved vaccinating the patients with chronic diseases such as chronic respiratory diseases, chronic heart diseases, chronic kidney diseases, tumors and diabetes, among others,” Dr. al-Shammari went on adding.
By the same token, the campaign achieved the results intended as the total coverage of the three targeted groups was 39%, health worker 48-91%, the pregnant 10-53% and patients with chronic diseases 25-71%.
In the meantime, Dr. al-Shammari pointed out that the number of those vaccinated across the Kingdom to date amounted to more than million and two hundred thousand in the private and governmental sectors. Currently, preparation for the second phase of the Flu Control National Program is being made for the next winter. The plan targets other additional groups of the ones at risk if developed the flu according to the WHO conditions.   
It is mentionable that the regions obtained the first places in terms of coverage come as following: the first place Jeddah, second place Ha’il and repetitive second place Eastern Province. As regards the private sector, Jeddah’s Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital came first, Khobar’s Saad Specialist Hospital second and Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Group third.

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