Saudi Arabia’s high-tech plan to guard food security

Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadhli speaks during a workshop in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 28 February 2019
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Saudi Arabia’s high-tech plan to guard food security

  • Riyadh will host the G20's 15th meeting in 2020

RIYADH: Digital technologies and artificial intelligence will have an increasing role in Saudi Arabia’s efforts to maintain food security, according to the Kingdom’s agriculture minister. 

Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadhli, the environment, water and agriculture minister, told a preparatory workshop for next year’s G20 meeting that Arab and foreign institutions were turning to modern technologies with the aim of finding new food resources. 

The workshop was attended by Fahd Al-Mubarak, secretary-general of the G20 Saudi Secretariat, and heads of global organizations working in the environment, water and agriculture sectors.

Al-Fadhli said that Saudi Arabia was working closely with Arab regional organizations and international groups to guarantee food and water security, and promote sustainable agricultural development and environmental balance.

The agriculture sector faced mounting challenges from climate change and water scarcity, as well as the rising prices of agricultural products, he said.

“We hope this workshop will be fruitful and will lead to practical proposals and recommendations that to respond to these challenges,” he said.

Al-Mubarak highlighted the importance of the G20 in ensuring the health of member populations, addressing financial crises, preserving global food security, conserving natural resources and reducing waste.

Key topics to be discussed under Saudi Arabia’s presidency at the 2020 G20 include development of natural resources to reduce degradation, desertification and climate change, water scarcity, sustainable food security, agricultural systems, the use of technology in agriculture, reduction of food waste, investments in agriculture and low agricultural productivity.

International organizations represented at the workshop included the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development , the Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Islamic Organization for Food Security, Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe, World Organization for Animal Health, and the International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas.

 


Makkah Route: Health services presented to Hajjis in their home countries

Updated 21 July 2019
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Makkah Route: Health services presented to Hajjis in their home countries

  • 257,981 pilgrims benefited from the "preventive services" since the new initiative’s launch

RIYADH: One of the services provided by the Makkah Route initiative, which aims to smooth the Hajj journey of pilgrims and provide top-quality service, is to ensure that all health requirements are met.

The Communication, Relations and Health Awareness General Department of the Ministry of Health is implementing the initiative in two ways. 

The first is to ensure that the proper application of the health requirements for Hajj and Umrah is followed in targeted countries before issuing the Kingdom’s entry visa (Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Tunisia). 

The second is to check that preventive measures are taken according to the world’s epidemiological situation, for instance in Pakistan.

“Preventive measures” mean, for example, providing polio vaccines for pilgrims. The vaccine, approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), is provided through the Pakistani health authorities at the departure area of the airport.

“The ministry is also deploying a team of five people qualified to supervise the application of health requirements and assess the vaccination procedure and the application of preventive measures,” the department added.   


HIGHLIGHTS

The Makkah Route initiative aims to ensure that the proper application of the health requirements for Hajj and Umrah is followed in targeted countries before issuing the Kingdom’s entry visa.

The initiative also ensures that preventive measures are taken according to the world’s epidemiological situation, for instance in Pakistan.

The workforce at the different land, air, and sea entry/exit points during this year’s Hajj season numbers more than 1,700 individuals.

The teams include 131 experienced doctors, general health specialists, epidemiological monitors, and other staff to provide the necessary treatment and preventive services to pilgrims.


The ministry’s procedures in the departure hall include prepping emergency clinics at the points where Makkah Route pilgrims are received. 

These clinics deal with urgent cases, prepare awareness information for pilgrims and coordinate with the General Authority of Civil Aviation regarding their distribution on the targeted airlines.

The workforce at the different land, air, and sea entry/exit points during this year’s Hajj season numbers more than 1,700 individuals, including 131 experienced doctors, general health specialists, epidemiological monitors, and other staff to provide the necessary treatment and preventive services to pilgrims.

The ministry stated that the number of health practitioners assigned to the service of pilgrims during Hajj “is more than 30,000.”

The ministry encourages volunteering during the Hajj season; it believes that it is a very important and noble service toward fellow citizens, nations and the religion, where Islam highly encourages volunteering and serving others.

The ministry is coordinating the major institutions and commissions via its Hajj volunteering link to register volunteers so that they can participate through the societal partnership program.

The missions affiliated with the pilgrim’s affairs offices provide basic treatment services and refer patients to the ministry’s health facilities, keeping an eye on the overall health situation and reporting any suspicious infectious diseases. 

The ministry monitors all the health institutions and medical missions affiliated with the pilgrim’s affairs offices to make sure the health requirements are being properly applied, to ensure pilgrims’ safety and guarantee an environment free of infectious diseases.

The Health Ministry has confirmed that so far that there has been no incidence of any epidemic diseases or quarantine cases recorded among pilgrims, who arrived and the health situation is reassuring.

Since the first of Dul Qaada, the ministry has provided preventive services, via access points, to 257,981 pilgrims, with a total rate of commitment to vaccination reached  87.4 percent for meningitis, 67.3 percent for yellow fever and 95.3 percent for polio.