40,000-strong task force trained to battle infectious diseases

Updated 29 November 2014
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40,000-strong task force trained to battle infectious diseases

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has trained 40,000 health officials in infection control during the past four months with the cooperation of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Atlanta-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said a senior official.
Speaking at a workshop on infection control at the MOH, Undersecretary for Preventive Health, Dr. Abdullah Al-Aseeri said the ministry is implementing a series of programs for infection control to adopt preventive measures to protect patients and staff in the medical sector from infection of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome MERS, corona virus and other communicable diseases.
Under this program, Al-Aseeri said his ministry has plans to appoint health inspectors to ensure that the hospitals and clinics have infection control programs within their facilities.
“However, the ministry still lacks qualified personnel to handle infection control. Therefore, we have intensified our program to train more and more people to bridge this gap,” he stressed.
With the cooperation of the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCFHS), he said around 418 hospitals in the Kingdom have been accredited to treat MERS corona virus patients in the country.
“We also have plans to coordinate with the Saudi Aramco which has some cooperation with the John Hopkins University to train Saudis in the field of infection control," said the official.
Some 40 Saudi nationals pass out annually with a diploma in infection control he said, pointing out that the level of skills acquired by the graduates are of international standards and they are carried out at par with the standards maintained in reputed hospitals in the US.
He recalled that the ministry in collaboration with the US hospitals was able to bring the best trainers to educate the first batch of students in a fitting manner.
The graduates received their internship in hospitals such as the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh and Jeddah, the King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah, the King Fahd Medical City in Riyadh and the King Fahad Specialist Hospital in Dammam, the undersecretary noted.
“The students were given theoretical and practical training in these health facilities,” he said.
The issue of anti-infection is a major concern in most of the world’s hospitals where patients sometimes develop fatal diseases as a result of bacterial infection.
The diploma graduates are expected to make a useful contribution toward reducing the percentage of wound contamination, transmission of bacteria from person to person and possible inflammation.
In an effort to control infection in the Kingdom, the MERS-CoV Advisory Council was formed by the acting Health Minister Adel Fakeih to develop a set of guidelines to meet the urgent need for up-to-date information and evidence-based recommendations for the safe care of patients with suspected, probable, or confirmed Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection.
Tariq A Madani is the chairman of the council.
The main bulk of these guidelines have been adapted from previous guidelines produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The council members have revised these two documents and made important modifications based on the current epidemiological evidence and the members’ clinical experience in Infectious Diseases.


Rights and benefits of the Saudi ‘Green Card’

The Kingdom is continuing its development and reform plans within Vision 2030 to develop its economy and enhance the attractiveness of its investment environment. (AFP)
Updated 20 May 2019
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Rights and benefits of the Saudi ‘Green Card’

  • New visa move will allow residents and expatriates to play a more active role in Saudi economy
  • Media reports suggest the "Privileged Iqama" could cost as much as SR800,000 for a long-term version or SR100,000 for the one-year version

JEDDAH: The Um Al-Qura newspaper, the official gazette of the Saudi government, has published new information concerning the laws and regulations of the Privileged Iqama, widely known as the Saudi “Green Card.” It also carried the conditions under which the Iqama can be canceled.
Following the announcement of the Saudi Cabinet’s approval of the Privileged Iqama residency permit, as previously reported by Arab News, the new information offers a further look at the Privileged Resident Permit (iqama) scheme.
The iqama was first proposed in 2016 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and was approved by the Cabinet last week. It will for the first time allow foreign nationals to work and live in Saudi Arabia without a sponsor.
The scheme will enable expatriates to permanently reside, own property and invest in the Kingdom. An authorized draft of the new Privileged Iqama system offers a number of benefits to highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds that will not require a Saudi sponsor.
A special committee has been given 90 days to determine regulations governing the mechanisms of the scheme, such as fees for applicants, which have not been yet determined by the authorities.
Fahad bin Juma, vice chairman of the Shoura Council Financial Committee said that eligibility for the Saudi Green Card will be determined by a number of bodies headed by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment, as reported by Al-Watan newspaper.
He also added that in order to be eligible, applicants must possess scientific or professional skills that are not abundantly available in the Kingdom, or they should be company owners who can invest in the country.
The holder of the Privileged Iqama will be deemed resident for the purpose of applying other statutory provisions, especially tax provisions, regardless of how much time he spends outside the Kingdom in the course of the year.
The applicant must be over 21 years of age, must have a valid passport, must not have a criminal record, and must provide a health report dated within 6 months of the application presenting proof that the applicant is free of infectious diseases. In the case of applications from within the Kingdom, the applicant must obtain a legal resident permit before applying.
The Privilege Iqama rights include possession of private means of transport and any other movable properties that an expat is allowed to acquire as per the Saudi law, employment in private sector establishments and transfer between them (this includes the beneficiary’s family members) except for occupations and jobs from which non-Saudi nationals are banned. The rights also include freedom to leave the Kingdom and return to it independently, use of the queues designated for Saudi nationals when entering and exiting the Kingdom through its ports, and doing business under the foreign investment system.
Under the system, two categories are provided to applicants, an extended iqama and temporary iqama subject to renewal.
Upon approval of the application, according to Article 5, the applicant must pay the fees specified by the designated authorities; the holder will be deemed resident for the purpose of applying other statutory requirements, especially the tax provisions, regardless of how much time he spends outside the Kingdom in the course of the year.
The Privileged Iqama does not entitle the holder to Saudi citizenship.
The holder of the Privileged Iqama, will enjoy several rights, including residence in Saudi Arabia with his family, the right to issue visitor’s visas for relatives as defined by the MOI regulations, the recruitment of domestic workers, the possession of property for residential, commercial and industrial purposes with the exclusion of Makkah, Madinah and border areas as per the regulations. The holder will also be able to utilize property in Makkah and Madinah for a period not exceeding 99 years.
The Ministries of Justice and Commerce and Investment shall establish the necessary mechanisms to ensure the beneficiary’s access to an instrument of utilization issued by the Notary Public. This right will be enforceable by transfer to others according to the rules set by the committee.
Saudi Arabia’s minister of Economy and Planning, Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri, said that the Privilege Iqama law approved by the Saudi Cabinet confirms that the Kingdom is continuing its development and reform plans in accordance with Vision 2030 to develop its economy and enhance the attractiveness of its investment environment.
The Privilege Iqama aims to make residents and expatriates an active part of the Saudi economy, promote consumption growth by increasing quality purchasing power and economic activity in various sectors, establish more small and medium enterprises, and generate jobs for Saudi citizens.
The Privileged Iqama can be canceled if the holder did not comply with the obligations stipulated in Article 7 of the law, waivered his residency, and/or passed away or was no longer eligible.
Several matters could lead to the cancelation of the Iqama, such as providing false information in the application, a conviction for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a period exceeding 60 days and/or a fine exceeding SR100,000, or a judicial decision to deport the holder from the Kingdom.
The cancelation or termination of the Privilege Iqama does not entail the transfer of the rights and benefits, obtained in accordance with Article 2 of the law, to the holder’s family. However, if a family member met the conditions of this law and its regulations, he may apply for the Privileged Iqama.
In the event of the cancelation or termination of the holder’s Iqama or any of his family members, the Privilege Iqama Center will, in coordination with the designated authorities, consider and remedy any consequences that may result therefrom in accordance with the law and its regulations.