MOH News

Bin Saeed: “MOH Pursues an Approach Based on Transparency and Clarity Regarding Dealing with Coronavirus”
16 November 2015
The Deputy Minister of Health for Public Health, Dr. Abdulaziz bin Saeed highlighted that the International Conference on MERS-CoV Vaccine Researches, which was held on November 14th to 15th,  is one of the steps taken by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to combat and control the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) and prevent its outbreak.”
He pointed out that the major shift in combating MERS-CoV is that the Command and Control Center (CCC). As per the leadership directives, it began to adopt a national way, in terms of dealing with other governmental bodies and disseminating its success to all hospitals, so as to avoid what happened at King Abdulaziz Medical City (KAMC). He added the CCC has initiated the e-notification, meanwhile describing it as “The first approach of response … if you know, respond quickly”. He indicated that the MOH aims at applying such approach to other epidemiological diseases, and will include 42 diseases with e-notification.
 “The MOH has applied a long-term policy in dealing with MERS-CoV. Some specialists describe the MOH’s efforts as a marathon,” said Bin Saeed adding: “While the efforts to control the disease and reassure citizens and residents are going on, the MOH on the other hand keeps on searching for a vaccine or an effective treatment, the matter which requires the MOH to exert strenuous efforts to draw the attention of scientists and bring the most famous ones to a round table. These efforts have been culminated in attracting 110 scholars and experts in the field of preventive vaccines, as well as donors to support production of Coronavirus vaccine”.
Over the period between convening the International Conference on MERS-CoV Vaccine Researches and the onset of the disease in 2012, the MOH has taken several actions and stages in dealing with such virus which posed concern for everyone. Hence, the MERS-CoV cases have reached to 1,275, including 547 deaths, since the onset of the disease.
 “Whoever tries to monitor the MOH’s actions in this regard may be referred to the most important thing that the MOH pursues in effect an approach based on transparency and clarity, in terms of announcing any updates of incidence and ways of prevention against the disease, as well as publishing these announcements amongst people and in the medical facilities. The MOH also revealed the facts to the Shura Council members and the former health minister briefed them on the status of MERS-CoV as well as the MOH’s plans on dealing with the disease.” Bin Saeed said.
He pointed out the big variation in the recorded cases, saying: “In 2014, the ratio of the community cases compared with the acquired cases in health facilities amounted to 1 to 9, which means that the infection control measures were not so effective inside hospitals. In 2015, the ratio was changed to become a hospital out of seven hospitals in 2014, while the number did not change in the hospitals which not affiliated to the MOH and private hospitals.”
Regarding the establishment of the CCC, as the most important step taken by the MOH, Bin Saeed stated: “The outbreak of the disease in 2014 in Jeddah had caused panic among the public and the MOH responded with the establishment of the CCC and provided it with all necessary equipment, enabling it to overcome the administrative bureaucracy. The Center has platforms to facilitate the prevention procedures. Upon its transfer to Riyadh in 2015, its work has been expanded horizontally, by means of establishing local command and control centers”.
Besides, the MOH has developed regulations and directives to be followed by the medical facilities, meanwhile confirming its commitment to imposing punishment against those proven negligent about infection control procedures.  
The CCC has adopted infection control mechanisms and published guidelines about cleanliness rules specially hand washing, avoiding crowded areas, avoiding direct contact with camels and their products, covering nose when coughing or sneezing and using masks in public places.
The guidelines and requirement were circulated to the health affairs general directorates all over the Kingdom’s regions and governorates. Nevertheless, the hospitals have become the main source of infection. The MOH has taken strict measures to the extent of closing hospitals until they meet the CCC’s requirements and the prevention and infection control standards.
The MOH has opened the door widely to benefit from international expertise, and received scientific teams from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other specialized centers for disease control and prevention. 
During its endeavors to implement its plans, the MOH has been subject to criticism; some people called on the MOH to reconsider its positions specially the one about the sources of MERS-CoV infection. On other hand, camels' owners have rejected the claiming of MOH that camels are the main source of the disease; however the MOH has reconfirmed its decision which is based on the outcomes of scientific researches and the conclusions reached by monitoring teams, whom have been formed specially for this purpose. Finally the CCC has adopted recommendations of its Scientific Advisory Board, to keep camels away from the holy sites; due to the discovery of a close link between the camels and initial cases of MERS-CoV. 
Thanks to putting the regulations into effect and monitoring the spread of infection, the MOH has recorded significant achievements in curbing the MERS-CoV outbreak, by preventing the transmission of infection to pilgrims and declaring the Hajj season free of any incident of Corona.  

Last Update : 06 January 2016 11:54 AM
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