Saudi health, education ministries ready for second phase to reduce obesity among students

Updated 15 September 2017
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Saudi health, education ministries ready for second phase to reduce obesity among students

RIYADH: The Ministry of Health recently announced its plans to launch the second phase of its initiative to reduce obesity among schoolchildren.
According to an official from the ministry, the formal launch was made in February this year in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and 160 public and private schools, targeting some 50,000 students at all levels.
Under the program, teams of officials from the ministries of health and education will visit schools and conduct preliminary tests on boys and girls to evaluate their weight and height to determine their level of obesity.
As part of the program, educational lectures on the importance of a balanced diet and physical activity will be delivered.
Within the framework of its efforts, the Ministry of Health, represented by the Media and Health Awareness General Department, has developed many programs to lose weight by reducing the number of calories consumed by the individual and increasing physical activities.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. The problem is global and is steadily affecting many low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings.
Overweight and obese children are likely to stay obese into adulthood and more prone to develop non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age. Obesity, as well as its related diseases, are largely preventable.
According to Saad Salman Al-Qarni, from the King Saud Abdul Aziz University for Health Sciences in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is now among the nations with the highest obesity and overweight rates due to a number of factors.
He said research reveals that the rate of obesity is significantly high in the country among different age groups and occupations; at different locations in the country; and among both males and females.
The main factors causing obesity include family history, diet pattern and eating habits, genetic factors, marital status, hypertension, and lack of physical activity.
The major consequences are cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and ischemic heart disease.
Research has stressed the need to raise awareness on obesity and design programs and strategies to combat it in the Kingdom.


Saudi Arabia greets 1.68m pilgrims, passport chief reveals

Maj. Gen. Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Yahya speaks in Jeddah on Thursday. (SPA)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Saudi Arabia greets 1.68m pilgrims, passport chief reveals

  • The Ministry of Interior has been working hard every year to make Hajj successful and easy by using technology to facilitate Hajj permits
  • The number of pilgrims increases annually which is a good sign of a successful Hajj

JEDDAH: More than 1.68 million Hajj pilgrims had arrived in the Kingdom by noon on Thursday, the General Directorate of Passports announced.
Maj. Gen. Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Yahya, director general of passports, told a press conference: “Up to this moment, our air, land and sea checkpoints have warmly received 1,684,629 pilgrims from different countries of the world.”
According to Al-Yahya, 1,584,085 pilgrims have arrived by air, 84,381 entered the country via land crossing points, and 16,163 came by sea.
“Under close supervision by the minister of interior, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif, and a daily follow-up by the Makkah governor, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, we had an early plan to efficiently receive Hajj worshippers. For that reason, we have all qualified personnel and modern technology available for their service so that the arrival process is done in a short time as possible,” he said.
Al-Yahya said that well-trained staff members were present to prevent lawbreakers from entering the holy sites.
“The role of these workers is to take hold of law violators and impose penalties on them. They are working 24 hours a day. For example, a driver who illegally transports pilgrims into Makkah will be fined SR10,000 ($2,600) for every passenger he is caught transporting,” Al-Yahya said.
The violation would also bring a 15-day jail sentence.
“When the same violator commits the same felony, a SR25,000 fine will be imposed for every passenger he is carrying, in addition to two months in jail. Third-time offenders will spend six months in jail and will have to pay a fine of SR50,000,” he said.
He said that about 18 drivers have been detained following violations. Punishments will vary since some were caught using relatives’ cars.
Al-Yahya said a pilgrims’ departure plan was in place to assist worshippers in departing for their countries after their rituals have been completed.
Al-Yahya highlighted the contribution of women in the passports system during Hajj.
“We have 107 women officials working at the King Abdul Aziz International Airport. There are others in different locations, such as Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah, where 58 female agents are working.”
Al-Yahya said that the directorate is using the latest technology to counter passport counterfeiting, a growing problem around the world.
He praised the Makkah Route project, saying pilgrims had been able to enter the Kingdom with minimal delay and without complications.
Pilgrims on this route took no more than 35 minutes to leave their flights and board buses for the holy city.
“Even on their way to Makkah, they don’t need to stop at checkpoints,” he said.

‘Makkah Road’ pilgrims
Thursday morning saw the arrival in Saudi Arabia of the final flights of this year’s “Makkah Road” initiative. The project, which was implemented this year, has seen 103,057 pilgrims arrive to perform Hajj on 240 flights from Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta to Jeddah and Madinah.
Al-Yahya said that the initiative has been a huge success, and represents just one of many projects that the Supreme Hajj Committee is developing under the direction of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif.