MOH News
WHO General Assembly Embraces the Saudi Proposal of Creating a Program for Mass Gathering Medicine
27 May 2012
   The WHO General Assembly, based in Geneva, has embraced the Saudi initiative proposing creating a program for crowds and mass gathering medicine, seeking to promote the global health security. WHO has backed this initiative on the grounds that the crowding of human gatherings has an enormous impact on public health, transcending the generally recognized limits of public health. When dealing with human gatherings, many accidents might take place, and require high proficiency and experience to be timely discovered, and correctly handled. Besides, the WHO added, human gatherings pose significant dangers to health security, as they may threaten people's health and arouses social and economic disorders on the local, regional and international levels. WHO pointed out, also, that adopting this initiative would help in the development of mass gathering medicine, as well as expanding its scope to include joint planning, the enhancement of health infrastructure, and taking the proper preemptive and preventive measures to control the prevalence of epidemiological diseases on the international scale. It also helps finding opportunities to raise people's health awareness, and draw their attention to importance of this domain.
 
On this occasion, His Excellency the Minister of Health, Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabeeah, the head of the Saudi Delegation to the WHO General Assembly, said, “It is an honor for the GCC countries, the Eastern Mediterranean Region and the Arab and Muslim World to have the Saudi initiative of mass gathering medicine approved and adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO). The Kingdom's efforts in caring for the health of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims coming from all over the world in a certain time have been taken as a role model for the world's health workers specialized in health security.”
 
Dr. Al-Rabeeah added, “We will spare no effort to make the Kingdom the world's focal point in the field of mass gathering medicine. This vision shall be brought into action based on three pillars; the first pillar has to do with the development of international standards and policies for dealing with human gatherings, the second is centered on creating an educational and training program for the physicians specialized in this domain, and the third has to do with the establishment of a specialized research center for mass gathering medicine, based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We shall be making good use of our broad expertise in the field of mass gathering medicine, accumulated by Hajj and Umrah seasons.”
 
 
It should be note, in this respect, that the report distributed while approving the Saudi initiative pointed out that the available studies on how to prepare for handling public health risks in such gatherings are usually insufficient, and the resources available for planning are usually very limited. However, the report retracted, the exchange of experiences among the organizers and hosts of large gatherings is on the increase. The report gave an elaborate account of the Kingdom's broad expertise in dealing with large gatherings and human masses, and mentioned the perfect organization of the International Mass Gathering Medicine Conference, held in Jeddah in 2010, which was a substantial step towards the Jeddah Declaration for Mass Gathering Medicine.
 
The Saudi delegation to the WHO General Assembly, on behalf of the Kingdom and all the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region, have expressed their appreciation to the World Health Organization (WHO) for supporting the initiative and preparing the technical report entitled: “Human Masses: Effects and Opportunities in Terms of  Global Health Security”. The delegation pointed out that, inasmuch as the recurrence of large human gatherings every year, the Kingdom believes that the world is in bad need to have a specialized center meant to enhance the health authorities' response and readiness. The Mass Gathering Medicine Specialized Center to be established by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia could be taken as a role model for such a center. It keeps a close eye on human gatherings, coordinates the international health measures, and offers its experience on the patterns and lifestyles of human agglomerations to ensure collective coordination and the provision of as necessary health services as epidemiological surveillance, infection control, planning for disaster prevention, preservation of people's health and many other health associated topics. The delegation called upon participants to adopt the recommendations of Jeddah Declaration on the health of human agglomerations as a substantial step towards the establishment of the Excellence Center for Mass Gathering Medicine Center, so that this center would be one of the Saudi centers cooperating with the World Health Organization (WHO).
 
It is worth mentioning that the Director of the WHO Office at the Eastern Mediterranean Region, Dr. Alaa Elwan, has commended the Kingdom's accumulated experience and scientific efforts in the field of mass gathering medicine, by way of dealing with Hajj and Umrah pilgrims every year. This qualified the Kingdom to be the world's leading country in this field. He also lauded the strenuous and fruitful efforts made by MOH workers in the field of controlling both communicable and non-communicable diseases.
 
 



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