Finnish health specialists seek Saudi cooperation on infection prevention

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Dr. Riika Mäkinen (C) said the challenges of climate and large numbers of visitors and pilgrims make the Saudi health and construction sectors areas of research interest worldwide. (Photo: Supplied)
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Dr. Riika Mäkinen said the challenges of climate and large numbers of visitors and pilgrims make the Saudi health and construction sectors areas of research interest worldwide. (Photo: Supplied)
Updated 08 March 2019
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Finnish health specialists seek Saudi cooperation on infection prevention

  • In August 2017, Saudi Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah and his Finnish counterpart Pirkko Mattila signed a memorandum of understanding in the health sector
  • Dr. Riika Mäkinen presented a paper on infection prevention at the recent Global Ministerial Patient Safety Summit in Jeddah

JEDDAH: Finnish health specialists are seeking further cooperation on infection prevention with Saudi Arabia given its experience with handling mass gatherings during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, said a senior researcher at the Satakunta University of Applied Sciences.
Dr. Riika Mäkinen, who presented a paper on infection prevention at the recent Global Ministerial Patient Safety Summit in Jeddah, said the challenges of climate and large numbers of visitors and pilgrims make the Saudi health and construction sectors areas of research interest worldwide.
In August 2017, Saudi Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah and his Finnish counterpart Pirkko Mattila signed a memorandum of understanding in the health sector.
“There are further opportunities for collaboration,” Mäkinen told Arab News. “The Indoor Hygiene Middle East Construction (IHMEC) project is offering a training program opportunity for emerging specialists in infection prevention and control, quality control, and engineers from maintenance departments from the health and construction sectors in Saudi Arabia.”
Mäkinen, who is project manager of the IHMEC, which is supported by the EU, added: “This program will provide a great insight into the optimum procedures that are applied in Finland.”
One of the main areas of collaboration is to bring together Saudi expertise in infection prevention and controlling mass gatherings with Finland’s health care system, which is among the best in the world, she said.
In cooperation with a large corporate network, the Satakunta University of Applied Sciences and the University of Turku have been researching solutions for improving indoor hygiene since 2012, she added.
“The central idea of the indoor hygiene concept is to combine different technologies related to all indoor elements, including air, water and surfaces, to create a comprehensive solution that can increase the level of indoor hygiene during the whole lifespan of a building,” Mäkinen said. This can lower the costs of health care and proactively improve the sector, she added.
The IHMEC project aims to provide the Middle East construction market with new and tailor-made indoor hygiene solutions that fit health care needs.
“Long-term cooperation with companies and hospitals has resulted in unique know-how of indoor hygiene solutions in Finland,” said Mäkinen.
“Through the workings of the interdisciplinary team of IHMEC researchers, guidelines and standards of indoor hygiene have been developed.”
She said she was grateful to have been invited by the Saudi Health Ministry to present the project during the fourth Global Ministerial Patient Safety Summit.
Saudi-Finnish cooperation could have global benefits in terms of dealing with antibiotic-resistant microbes, she added.


Tuwaiq Sculpture Symposium opens in Riyadh for the first time

Updated 34 min 31 sec ago
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Tuwaiq Sculpture Symposium opens in Riyadh for the first time

  • Since their arrival, the international artists have enjoyed tours of the city, including to Al-Masmak Fortress, as well as newer landmarks such as Kingdom Tower
  • The symposium will run until March 22

RIYADH: The first Tuwaiq International Sculpture Symposium kicked off in Riyadh on Monday morning in the capital’s Diplomatic Quarter, featuring the works of 23 artists from 18 different countries.
Participants of note include South Korean sculptor So Dong Choe, Mexican artist Carlos Monge, and Japan’s Yoshin Ogata. The symposium’s three Saudi participants are Ali Al-Toukhais, his nephew Talal Altukhaes, and Mohammad Althagafi.
Altukhaes, an organizer as well as a participant, told Arab News that the goal of the symposium was to create an environment in which artists could share techniques, collaborate with one another, and promote a sense of camaraderie.
The sculptors will assist each other in creating their artworks despite the language barriers between them, but Altukhaes told Arab News that words were not as important as demonstrations of technique, given most of the sculptors would wear ear protection to guard against the constant buzz of heavy machinery anyway.
Since their arrival, the international artists have enjoyed tours of the city, including to Al-Masmak Fortress, as well as newer landmarks such as Kingdom Tower. “Everyone is happy, you can see it in their smiles as they’re working,” Altukhaes said.

New Zealander Anna Korver, covered from head to toe in white dust, grinned as she told Arab News how excited she was to be part of the symposium.
Ogata expressed how happy he was to be in Saudi Arabia for the first time, and that he was enjoying the new experience. “It’s a nice place. The dry climate is a little different to what I’m used to, but the heat is something I’m accustomed to. It’s always a pleasure to work with other sculptors — I usually work alone in my studio back home, so I enjoy seeing everyone here together, and being able to watch them work.”
“It’s my first time in Saudi Arabia, and I was always curious about what it would be like. I had no idea what to expect when I first came, but I’ve been having a great time so far. The symposium is perfect. It is great to work with people who really know what we need as artists — we have all the assistance we need.
“My work is always sort of a narrative about women, and I often like to use the dress form as a symbol of femininity. I’ve chosen to incorporate the hijab into my design. It should give a feeling of lightness when it’s viewed.”
Al-Toukhais, who has had work displayed all over the Arab world, said the secret to becoming an excellent sculptor was patience and commitment. “Sculpting is not for those who are looking for instant gratification, or to become famous overnight. You have to have passion, and drive, but most of all you have to be patient.”
Dr. Fahd bin Mushayt, the executive chairman of the General Authority of the Embassies, thanked the minister of culture, Prince Badr bin Abdullah, for sponsoring the event. In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency, he added that more than 20 masterpieces would be produced by the end of the collaboration.
The symposium will run until March 22.