Ministry sacks officials involved in HIV blood transfusion case

Updated 18 February 2013
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Ministry sacks officials involved in HIV blood transfusion case

The Ministry of Health announced it has relieved several officials from their posts as a result of the “gross mistake” of transferring HIV-contaminated blood to a young girl in a public hospital in Jazan. The relief included director of Jazan Public Hospital, the hospital’s medical manager and the director of the laboratory and blood bank. The latter has been fined SR 10,000.
The ministry said in a statement that the incident was a huge mistake and that it deeply apologizes to “the girl, her parents, her family and to Saudi society” for the pain inflicted on the girl and affirms that it is committed to bringing to account anyone who was negligent in the case and to preserving the rights of the girl and her family and the rights of the public.
The ministry sent the girl, 13-year-old Riham, to King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Riyadh. Riham is a sickle cell disease patient who has had blood transfusion every year at the same hospital where the accident took place.
The ministry has formed an investigative team of specialists following the incident and has assigned the committee on Violations of the Health Professions Practice Act to the case. Based on the committee’s recommendations, the ministry decided to halt blood donation at the blood bank at the Jazan public hospital, of which the requirements of blood units and derivatives will be serviced by King Fahd Hospital until a specialist committee finishes assessing the situation.
The committee also recommended restructuring the laboratories and blood bank administration at the Jazan region’s Health Affairs, with the General Administration for Laboratories and Blood Banks assigned to appoint a new administration in coordination with the Health Affairs Department in the region.
Other recommendations included revoking the practice license and firing the laboratory technician involved in the accident, sacking the blood bank supervisor at Jizan Public Hospital and the regional AIDS Program coordinator from their posts and fining them each SR 10,000, in addition to firing the director of laboratories and blood banks in the region from his post. The fine amount is the maximum for the violation according to regulations. The committee has recommended that the case be referred to the Sharia Health Commission in the Jazan region for a decision concerning the private rights of the girl in question.
The ministry’s statement said that the incident was the result of failure to implement standards required in blood banks at the blood bank in at the Jizan Public Hospital. It said the mistake was an individual one and that all blood banks in the country are committed to work as per the highest quality and safety standards.
The medical team assigned to the case by the ministry said there is a chance the girl did not contract the disease as she was given antiviral medications shortly after the case was discovered.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) demanded that the Ministry of Health immediately begin examining blood transfusion procedures and mechanisms countrywide to ensure such mistakes are not repeated. It also stressed the ministry’s duty to provide the girl and her parents with all the financial and moral support they need.
The girl’s uncle, Muhammad Hakami, said she is in a poor emotional state and questioned why the ministry did not provide her with a psychiatric team. She is taking medication every day and is waiting for the test results at the children's ward, he said.
The HRC called for expediting the issuance of the AIDS Patients’ Act of which the draft was prepared by the HRC and discussed recently at the Shoura Council.


KSA will be one of the very best countries for tourism, says Prince Sultan

Updated 44 min 21 sec ago
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KSA will be one of the very best countries for tourism, says Prince Sultan

  • The number of job opportunities is expected to increase to 1.2 million by the year 2020.
  • The Saudi government has allocated SR5 billion to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ program.

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will be one of the most attractive countries for tourism because of its location, its unique tourist and historic elements and its hospitable and welcoming people, said Prince Sultan bin Salman.
Prince Sultan, who is president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), told the annual conference of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires that the efforts of the SCTH and its partners in localizing tourist jobs resulted in an increase in the number of direct jobs in the tourism sector from 936,000 in 2016 to 993,000 by the end of 2017. The number of job opportunities is expected to increase to 1.2 million by the year 2020.
He said the contributions of tourism to the national GDP amounted to 3.6 percent, up to 4.9 percent of the national non-oil output, and the revenues of the tourism sector reached SR97.5 billion ($26 billion). Direct jobs in the tourism sector exceeded 994,000, and the proportion of Saudi citizens currently employed in the sector is about 28 percent.
The Saudi government has allocated SR5 billion to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ program, which takes care of the cultural heritage of the Kingdom.
The program includes the establishment of 18 museums in the Kingdom’s regions, the creation of 80 heritage sites and opening them to visitors throughout the Kingdom, the restoration and preparation of 18 villages and traditional towns to receive visitors, and hosting economic and local hospitality activities operated by local people, as well as opening 17 centers for artisans that serve as incubators for the development of their businesses, factories for their production, and outlets for sale.
Prince Sultan also noted that after the SCTH completed the registration of the first four sites on the World Heritage List (Madain Saleh, Al-Tarif district in Jeddah, historic Jeddah, rock inscriptions in Jubba and Shuweis in Hail), it has been working with its partners to complete the registration files of six additional sites. Also, 20 additional important Islamic sites are being rehabilitated and prepared in Makkah and Madinah.
The conference was attended by more than 1,200 prominent investors and key corporate officials in tourism.
The WTTC is the largest gathering of investors and private sector professionals working in tourism around the world.