King Salman approves steps to improve health care in KSA

King Salman bin Abdulaziz chairing a cabinet meeting at Al-Safa palace in the holy Muslim city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. (AFP)
Updated 18 March 2019
0

King Salman approves steps to improve health care in KSA

  • Under new rules, hospitals are not allowed to reject heart-related cases transported by the Saudi Red Crescent provided the health facilities are well-equipped to handle such cases

JEDDAH: King Salman on Monday approved a number of decisions taken by the Saudi Health Council including the establishment of the National Center for Evidence-based Health Practice to improve health care services in the Kingdom. The center will work to consolidate an evidence-based work culture in the Saudi health sector.
The decisions are aimed at improving the quality of health services and raising the standard of the Saudi health sector.
It has been decided to unify codes for lab measurement units across the Kingdom. The executive plan of the program will be implemented in cooperation with all stakeholders to develop an integrated system of rules and regulations. The secretary-general of the Saudi Health Council, Dr. Nahar Al-Azmi, thanked King Salman for approving the decisions of the council. He said the approval reflects King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s keenness to improve the quality of life of the people of Saudi Arabia.
Dr. Al-Azmi also thanked Saudi Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, who is also president of the council, and other council members for their support and encouragement.
Under new rules, hospitals are not allowed to reject heart-related cases transported by the Saudi Red Crescent provided the health facilities are well-equipped to handle such cases.
Dr. Al-Azmi said regarding oncology services in the Kingdom, specialized hospitals and medical cities have been directed to activate a hub-and-spoke cooperation program. He said it will be implemented in two phases: In the first phase, oncology units in Arar, Madinah and Asir regions will be linked to specialized hospitals, and in the second phase, specialized hospitals will provide other health facilities — with the most referrals — with studies and relevant work plans.
The health council is also planning to implement a unified referral system to all services’ providers, whether governmental or nongovernmental bodies, to benefit from the referral program (Ihalati). The council will reportedly work on developing the system to meet the needs of these services.
It will also publish an index covering all services’ providers, to show the waiting time to accept the cases and the waiting time to provide medical advice on tumor cases.
The council will activate through the national center, the National Oncology Registry, publish the results regularly, and unify the protocols of treatment across the Kingdom.
The Saudi Health Council will also develop a mechanism to control the acquisition of radiotherapy and cyclotron machines, to ensure the process is done in accordance with the needs and standards of each region.
The National Center for Health Information will also set up an interactive platform for the Saudi Oncology Registry for researchers and will introduce training programs in oncology under the supervision of the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCHS).
The Council of Cooperative Health Insurance will also conduct a study on insurance controls to include oncology treatments.


How Saudi women are getting ahead of men as STEM graduates

Dr. Fatima Alakeel, cybersecurity expert. (AN photo)
Updated 20 March 2019
0

How Saudi women are getting ahead of men as STEM graduates

  • ‘Securing a job after the degree remains the challenge,’ says Dr. Fatema Alakeel of King Saud University in Riyadh
  • ‘Saudi women are ambitious,’ says one graduate. ‘We are acquiring high degrees and seeking successful careers’

DUBAI: More and more girls in Saudi Arabia are opting for an education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and now the challenge is finding them employment, said Dr. Fatima Alakeel, a cybersecurity expert and faculty member at King Saud University (KSU) in Riyadh.
“In the Kingdom, STEM-related jobs are limited at the moment, as the economy is primarily oil-based and there are few technical jobs available,” said Alakeel, who is also the founder and CEO of the non-profit Confidentiality, Integrity & Availability Group (CIAG), which focuses on information security training and research in Riyadh.
According to a government report on the labor market situation in the third quarter of 2018, more than 30 percent of Saudi women aged between 15 and 65 are unemployed.
Among them, the highest rate of unemployment is among 20-24-year-olds (more than 70 percent) and among 25-29-year-olds (55 percent).
According to the report, there are 923,504 Saudi jobseekers, of whom 765,378 are women (82.2 percent).
“We have more girls in STEM education compared to Western countries,” said Alakeel, who completed her doctoral degree in computer science in the UK at the University of Southampton in 2017.
According to a report prepared by the Saudi Education Ministry, girls accounted for 57 percent of undergraduates for the year 2015-2016 in the Kingdom.
That same year, women outnumbered men in graduating with a bachelor’s in biology, information technology (IT), mathematics and statistics, and physics.
According to a survey Alakeel recently conducted on social media, “almost 80 percent of (Saudi) girls were keen to study STEM, but securing a job after the degree remains the challenge,” she said.
Maha Al-Taleb, 22, graduated earlier this year with a degree in technology from KSU, specializing in IT networks and security.
“It’s common for girls in the Kingdom to opt for STEM education,” said Al-Taleb, who now works in a public sector company in Riyadh as a junior information security analyst.
“Saudi women are ambitious. We’re acquiring high degrees and seeking successful careers. I don’t know why the world assumes that Saudi women are a backward tribal species who have no say in these matters. This entire perception is flawed.”
Al-Taleb got a job offer immediately after university, but realizes that not all her peers are as fortunate. Women “are facing problems in securing jobs, not because companies don’t want to hire us, but because employment for Saudi youths is a major challenge,” she said.
“In today’s Saudi Arabia, parents are encouraging their daughters to get a degree not just in the Kingdom; they also want them to go to Western universities. It has become a common phenomenon. Things have changed. Women are a crucial part of the nation’s development process.”
Not all women graduating in the Kingdom are as lucky, among them Razan Al-Qahtani. “It has been several months since I graduated, yet I haven’t been able to find a job. It has been a struggle so far,” said the 25-year-old IT graduate. “We have more talented and qualified girls, especially in the field of technology, but there are few jobs available. It’s a difficult situation, but we’re hopeful things will change very soon.”
Al-Qahtani expressed confidence that the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan will bring opportunities for qualified Saudis.
As part of Vision 2030, the government has committed to raise employment among Saudi women.
Alakeel said the government is working hard to find a solution, and it is only a matter of time until more such jobs are on offer.
“As per Vision 2030, there will be more jobs, including technical jobs, available in the country. Once we have more jobs, women will eventually get their due share,” she added. According to Alakeel, female empowerment and promotion to leading roles have made huge progress in Saudi Arabia, and this may affect existing STEM job opportunities.
“We’re glad to see Her Royal Highness Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud becoming the first female ambassador of the country. It only suggests change is on the way,” Alakeel said.
Al-Taleb expressed pride in the way her parents have supported her, saying: “My father isn’t educated and my mother has basic literacy, but both provided me with the education I desired. They want their daughters to be as successful as their sons.”
Like women in any country, the transition from university to the workplace is not always easy, even for young Saudi women with technology degrees. Yet they are not losing hope.
“We realize these are difficult times in terms of employment, especially in technology-related fields, but things will change,” Al-Taleb said. “Saudi women will soon be ruling the fields of STEM all over the country.”