Technologies will play a key role in transformation of health services, says Saudi minister

Al-Rabiah reviewed an app that remotely and promptly interprets X-ray images, which is already being used in four hospitals. (SPA)
Updated 11 October 2018
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Technologies will play a key role in transformation of health services, says Saudi minister

  • Al-Rabiah said digital health technologies will play a central role in the transformation of health services envisioned by the Health Ministry
  • The Mawid app, which was presented during the inaugural session, is a centralized system that enables patients to book appointments

RIYADH: Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah inaugurated the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference and exhibition in Riyadh on Wednesday. 

The event aims to raise awareness about the importance of e-health care and its role in improving performance, services and the use of resources in the health sector.

It was organized by the Health Ministry, the Saudi Health Council (SHC) and the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCHS).

Addressing the opening session, Al-Rabiah said digital health technologies will play a central role in the transformation of health services envisioned by the Health Ministry. A large part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan focuses on health issues, he added.

“E-health will be an essential part of this transformation, and will support it so as to contribute significantly to the improvement of health services and streamline access to such health services,” he said.

The Mawid app, which was presented during the inaugural session, is a centralized system that enables patients to book appointments in Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCs) in coordination with the relevant department, Al-Rabiah added. 

Through the app, patients can book, amend or cancel their appointments at any hospital to which they were referred, and rate the quality of services provided, he said. 

Another app, Seha, provides an online medical consultation service through doctors accredited by the Health Ministry, he added.

Patients can get these consultations via chat, voice or video calls, and evaluate their experience at the end of the consultation, said Al-Rabiah, adding that the ministry is developing electronic medical prescriptions.

“I think artificial intelligence (AI) will play a huge role in the development of health services in the coming years,” he said, adding that the ministry will include AI services in Seha.

Based on experiences outside the Kingdom, AI gives better results than visiting a physician, Al-Rabiah said.

“We appreciate the pivotal role of the physician, which is indispensable, but this technique will reduce pressure on the physician and facilitate access to health services in common diseases,” he added.

Al-Rabiah reviewed an app that remotely and promptly interprets X-ray images, which is already being used in four hospitals. AI will be introduced to make readings more in-depth and accurate, he said.

Al-Rabiah stressed the need to train and qualify health practitioners to use these new techniques, and thanked the SCHS for making such training a prerequisite for obtaining a health practice license.

“The future is brighter with the use of technologies in health services, and the Kingdom will be a leader in this field,” he said.

SHC Secretary-General Dr. Ahmed Al-Amry said the conference held three training courses and workshops with the participation of international trainers.

The conference received 60 working papers, 27 of which were accepted, he added. Six will be presented in the main program, and 21 in the form of posters.

The accompanying exhibition included an innovation lounge where visitors could learn about local stories of e-health start-ups.

Besides the Health Ministry, the SHC and the SCHS, exhibitors included local and international organizations such as the HIMSS, the Saudi Society for Health Administration (SSHA), the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) and the Gulf Health Council.

Maryam Hamad Al-Dhewalia, a research specialist at the SFDA, told Arab News: “We’re happy to be part of the conference and exhibition, and we at the SFDA look forward to ensuring the safety of food and drugs as well as e-products.”


Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat: ‘Our security and religion are a red line’

Updated 19 May 2019
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Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat: ‘Our security and religion are a red line’

  • Al-Jubeir's statement comes following last week's attacks on Saudi oil tankers in the Arabian Gul and installations within the Kingdom
  • He accused Iran of committing "countless crimes" including seeking to destabilize the region

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is doing its best to avoid war in the region but stands ready to respond with "all strength and determination" to defend itself from any threat, the Kingdom's top diplomat said on Sunday.

In a news conference, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir accused Iran of committing "countless crimes" including seeking to destabilize the region. He urged the international community to take responsibility to stop the Islamic republic from doing so.

"Our security and religion are a red line," Al-Jubeir said. His statement comes following last week's attacks on Saudi oil tankers in the Arabian Gulf and installations within the Kingdom.

Iran’s foreign minister was quoted by the state-run IRNA news agency on Saturday as saying his country is “not seeking war” even as the chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said Tehran was in a “full-fledged intelligence war with the US.“

The US has ordered bombers and an aircraft carrier to the Arabian Gulf over an unexplained threat they perceive from Iran, raising tensions a year after Trump pulled America out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

Al-Jubeir said Iranian regime can spare the region the dangers of war by adhering to international laws and covenants, by stopping its interference in the internal affairs of other countries of the region, by stopping its support for terrorist groups and militias, and immediately halting its missile and nuclear weapons programs.

"Saudi Arabia stresses that its hand is always extended to peace and seeks to achieve it, and believes that the peoples of the region, including the Iranian people, have the right to live in security and stability and to move towards development," he said.

"We want peace and stability and we want to focus on the Kingdom's Vision 2030 which will enrich Saudi people’s lives," he added.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have repeatedly accused Iran of bankrolling the activities of its proxy Shiite militias such as the Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and various groups in Iraq.

Houthi militias had repeatedly launched ballistic missiles and rockets into civilian targets in Saudi Arabia since a Saudi-led Arab Coalition threw its support behind the government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi against the Iran-backed power-grabbers. Last week, they owned responsibility for the drone attacks on two oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Jubeir also urged Qatar, an estranged member of the GCC to stop supporting extremists and terrorists and return to the fold. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt severed trade and diplomatic ties with Qatar in 2017, charging Doha of siding with terror groups that have been destabilizing the region. 

Instead of making amends with its GCC brothers, Qatar sought help from Turkey and Iran in bid to alleviate the impact of the boycott action of the group known as the anti-terror quarter (ATQ).