MOH News
Al-Falih Underscores the Importance of Prompting Gulf Citizens towards Positive Behaviors and Ideal Healthy Lifestyles
21 May 2015
 
The Minister of Health Eng. Khalid Abdulaziz Al-Falih called upon health ministries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to adopt a prevention-orientated stance and support primary health care in order to tangibly alleviate the economic burden on the Gulf states, and at the same time work for stimulating the formation of positive behaviors and ideal healthy lifestyles of our citizens.
 
He said, "We have to apply new ideas such as empowering the Gulf citizen to be a positive partner in the development of health care process, not just a recipient of such care, and bear a part of responsibility for his own health care. We shall work together to develop comprehensive health care quality programs in our health facilities and systems, including health services safety." 
 
This came in his speech before the opening of the 40th session of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Health Ministers Council held yesterday (Wednesday) on the sidelines of the 68th session of the World Health Organization (WHO) General Assembly in Geneva. 
Regarding the challenges and opportunities facing the Gulf countries' health sector, Eng. Al-Falih outlined four main axes of the joint Gulf action, including combating non-communicable and communicable diseases and promoting the health integration in the Gulf region, including initiatives of health services safety and quality and investment in human capital development. He confirmed that non-communicable diseases caused the death of 68% worldwide according to a report issued by the WHO in 2014 and the diabetes is one of the main priorities due to its high incidence rate in the Gulf region. 
  
Al-Falih said, "It is obvious to everyone that the health programs in the Gulf countries exceeded the stage of focusing on treatment of non-communicable diseases, and started the stage of prevention and control of their risk factors, due to the spread of unhealthy lifestyles in the Gulf region such as the high smoking rate, obesity, dependence on unhealthy food and physical inactivity among citizens of the GCC states."
 
He said the second axis is to activate the strategic plans for prevention against the communicable diseases and combating them, depends on upgrading the epidemiological surveillance system, which is reflected in strengthening readiness to deal with emergency situations and immediate response, citing what happened in Saudi Arabia during the fight against Coronavirus, when the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) contracted with an international technological firm to develop the HESN system which transformed the epidemiological surveillance procedures into digital forms, leading to a great leap in the speed of transferring accurate information on the virus detection, the matter which helped face the virus rapidly.
 
He pointed out that the world is facing today many communicable and infectious diseases such as Ebola, hepatitis B, and there is no doubt that we will continue to face the risk of the spread of such communicable diseases in the future, stressing the need to establish and rehabilitate national laboratories in the GCC states with advanced standards of the third and fourth class for diagnosing epidemiology-oriented viruses and securing biological safety, as currently many of diagnosis and testing activities are done outside the Gulf states.
 
The third axis, according to him, is stemming from the constants, upon which the relations between the GCC states are based, their joint destiny and a strategic goal of facing challenges hindering the optimal preparation of the Gulf citizen, and providing health services which meet aspirations of leaders and citizens. "In other words," he said, "this axis calls for drafting of a new vision to move to a higher stage of strategic integration among the health sectors in the GCC states."
 
The Minster added, "In the light of such great development and expansion, we have a huge opportunity to deepen the joint action, particularly in the field of researches on ideal operational and economic models in our Gulf environment, so as to provide inspired high-quality health care and achieve comprehensive health coverage, Allah willing."  
 
He noted that there is an urgent need to increase investment in the information technology to make leaps in productivity, integration and quality among systems, facilities and procedures of health care at the national and Gulf levels; so that the citizens and residents in the Gulf region can benefit, with ease and reliability, from health services during their smooth movement among the GCC countries. Eng. Al-Falih called also for applying the health smart card system as well as contacting health centers around the world in the field of medical records and documents, following the example of the ATM cards or SIM cards. 
 
The fourth and last axis, according to him, is the challenge of development of human capital and localization and empowerment of medical cadres in the Gulf region, pointing out that the Gulf cadres, as certified by their peers around the world, have shown distinction in many medical specialties, and effectively participated in the field of research and development, the matter which will undoubtedly contribute to building a solid base for health services in the region. 
Eng. Al-Falih noted that in spite of the progress that has been made over many years, the rates of the Gulf physicians remain at 20% of total numbers of physicians working in the governmental and private sectors; and it is also low when it comes to some specialties such as nursing. Indeed, the challenge of localization and empowerment is not restricted to technical and numerical aspects and promotion of their skills and capabilities, but must involve the ethics and behaviors as well, which represent the core of health work.  
    
He went on saying that “the Gulf health sector has faced (and still is facing) many challenges. That said, we have to take pride in the outstanding achievements, though, and we must work for boosting such achievements, bearing in mind the directives of the leaders of GCC coutnries, may Allah protect them, especially what has been mentioned in the 51st consultative meeting, which was held in Riyadh two weeks ago. It confirmed commitment to a united Gulf stance towards the serious challenges facing the region, and we shall all be keen to boost the fruitful joint Gulf action as a prelude to achieving comprehensive integration among the GCC states, Allah willing.   
 
He praised the achievements of the GCC Health Ministers Council, and the outstanding contributions of the current and former health ministers. Meanwhile, he pointing out that development of the council continues by leaps and bounds after the establishment of the GCC, with the aim of promoting the joint action supported by sound resolutions by the higher council of the leaders of GCC states, may Allah protect them.  
 
Al-Falih confirmed that the joint Gulf cooperation in the health sector has yielded many achievements such as provision of health care in public hospitals and health centers for GCC citizens, the unified procurement program and its achievements, unified price for imported drugs and establishment of a Gulf supervision commission to guarantee quality and validity of drugs in the council states. They also include unification of standards for accrediting health facilities, application of a unified system for management of medical waste, adoption of joints plans to combat diseases and facilitating movement of medical teams of organ transplantation between the council states, in addition to the joint Gulf program for screening foreign workers in the GCC states, formation of professional associations for physicians in many specialties and activation of training and development of health workers between the GCC states, as well as exchange of expertise and development of joint research.
 
He lauded the wise resolutions taken by the previous session, in February of last year in Riyadh, which paved the way for boosting the joint Gulf action in order to face the challenges besetting general health of the GCC citizens, affirming that this year’s WHO conference comes amid important changes facing the health sector at the Gulf and international arenas, which are reflected on the national and regional policies and on the WHO which is carrying out, in collaboration with the member states, a significant reformation of its works in terms of programs, setting priorities, conduct of affairs and administrative reforms. The organizations' reform plan aims at increasing intensity, flexibility, efficiency and impact. 
 
 
 
 



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