Cross border collaboration to strengthen surveillance & disease control in KSA
According to the WGO, the incidence of communicable diseases in Saudi Arabia is on the decline and, to maintain this trend, there is a need to strengthen the surveillance systems as well as disease control activities for communicable diseases.
Experts from the Health Ministers’ Council for GCC States in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, stress the importance of having an operational legal framework that deals with public health emergencies as well as unified cross border collaboration with other GCC countries to mitigate the effects of emerging diseases in the region.
This issue will be debated at the new Emerging Diseases of Public Health: Strategies and Interventions Conference that takes place during the Middle East’s largest healthcare exhibition, the Arab Health Exhibition & Congress, from 27-30 January 2014 at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Center, Dubai, UAE.
Professor Tawfik Khoja, Director General, Executive Board, Health Ministers’ Council for GCC States, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, will be presenting a keynote paper on ‘Evidence-based public health in emerging diseases in KSA’. He will discuss the role of public health laws in Saudi Arabia, as well as the efficacy of cross-border disease-management programmes and the rapid exchange of health information through social media.
Law enforcement has a very critical role in addressing the region’s challenges to disaster management. Depending on the threat, law enforcement role may include enforcing public health orders (e.g. quarantine or travel restrictions), securing the perimeter of contaminated areas, securing healthcare facilities, controlling crowds, investigating the scenes of suspected biological terrorism and protecting national stockpiles of vaccines or other medicines.
According to Prof. Khoja, “It is important to have legal framework that deals with public health emergencies and disasters. Public health laws provide governance for officials to implement the laws in such circumstances, and define responsibilities to all parties with the objective of achieving national security. Public health laws help improve the critical response to problems faced by disaster-affected populations in Saudi Arabia and wider region.”
Cross border collaboration is an added value to all GCC countries in terms of prevention of diseases and the mitigation of the smuggling of certain hazardous products such as tobacco products, etc.
“Above all it is an integral part of implementation of the state of unification of GCC Countries, particularly in terms of trade, healthcare, security, environmental protection, transport and tourism,” says Prof. Khoja. “I believe we should push for cross-border programmes and projects as well as cross-border networking and exchange of best practice and know-how in addition to efficient cross border resource management. Cross border collaboration can be a pillar of development in the GCC.”
Social media platforms and new technologies such as computerised physician order entry, TeleICU, and home TeleHealth, all help in rapid response to the emerging diseases in terms of provision of data, knowing the initial magnitude of the problem, defining immediate response action and setting strategies to deal with the issue.
“These new communications platforms and technologies offer opportunities for better reach and support, and they can be very efficient means for rapid exchange of information, evaluation and analysis. Of course, accuracy of this type of data is an issue so the information gathered through these methods would need to be verified.”
Inga Stevens – has written 90 posts on this site.
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