‘Kingdom free of cholera’

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Hamad Al-Dhuwelia, one of the top officials at the Ministry of Health, has confirmed that the Kingdom is totally free of cholera.

“The ministry has not yet recorded any case of the disease. One of the first priorities of the ministry is to combat epidemic and contagious diseases by first raising awareness among the people and educating them on prevention measures and related issues, then fighting the disease through measures applicable by the ministry,” he said.

He said that an international center to replace the control and command center to fight epidemics and contagious diseases would be established in the Kingdom and would include all departments and divisions working in the same field.

Al-Dhuwelia was speaking on the sidelines of a conference on epilepsy in Alkhobar. “The Kingdom is witnessing a quantum leap in all fields, especially in the health sector,” he said.

He mentioned efforts made by the Health Ministry to deal with and address epilepsy. “The efforts include establishing six specialized centers to treat epilepsy in the Kingdom’s hospitals. These follow the most up-to-date methods for diagnosing the condition and treating it, by medicine, surgery or by a ketogenic diet which is a special high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that helps to control seizures,” he said.

He added that under the supervision of the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties, the ministry had established an open training program for doctors who deal with epilepsy. “The training program began at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh and will soon be inaugurated at King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Dammam,” he said.

Al-Dhuwelia said epilepsy was the most common serious brain disorder worldwide according to the latest statistics from the World Health Organization. Some 50 million people around the world live with epilepsy.

He said that it was estimated that the prevalence of active epilepsy among the world population at any one time ranges from 4 to 10 people per thousand. The proportion increases in low-to-middle income countries to become 7 to 14 people per thousand. The condition causes the depletion of economic resources and expenditures on health care services as well as lost productivity at work.

Al-Dhuwelia said epilepsy rates in Saudi Arabia were not very different from other developing countries.

“A study conducted by the Center of Excellence in Genomic Science (CEGS) in collaboration with the College of Medicine at King Abdul Aziz University found that genetic factors play a significant role in the disease in the Kingdom due to the prevalence of marriage between relatives,” he added.

Dr. Hani Al-Khalidi, executive director at the King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Dammam, said in his speech that the hospital had recently established a unit for monitoring epilepsy, the first in the Eastern Province. “The unit includes the most advanced medical appliances in the world to treat severe cases of epilepsy,” he said.


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