Digital health care solutions connect Saudi patients with providers

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The UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Simon Collis, hosted a reception on Tuesday for representatives of five of the UK’s leading digital-health companies who were visiting the Kingdom. (AN photo by Bashir Saleh)
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The UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Simon Collis, hosted a reception on Tuesday for representatives of five of the UK’s leading digital-health companies who were visiting the Kingdom. (AN photo by Bashir Saleh)
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The UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Simon Collis, hosted a reception on Tuesday for representatives of five of the UK’s leading digital-health companies who were visiting the Kingdom. (AN photo by Bashir Saleh)
Updated 12 October 2018

Digital health care solutions connect Saudi patients with providers

RIYADH: In line with the emphasis on digitization in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the Ministry of Health has initiated a number of projects to deliver e-health solutions in recent months.
During Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the UK earlier this year, the Strategic Partnership Council was established, reinforcing the UK’s commitment to support Vision 2030 in a number of sectors, including health care.
The UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Simon Collis, hosted a reception on Tuesday for representatives of five of the UK’s leading digital-health companies who were visiting the Kingdom to discuss the latest innovations in their field.
“Today is an opportunity to look in the health care sector, specifically after the crown prince’s visit to the UK, six months ago. Vision 2030 has emphasized the importance of digitalizing all sectors, including health care. We know that the Ministry of Health has many important programs and initiatives to realize Vision 2030 in e-health,” the ambassador said.
The five companies represented were Proxime, a ‘Software as a Service’ platform for health care providers and medical technology companies; global information analytics company Elsevier; digital-health consultancy Ideal; clinical software developer TPP; and Biotronics3D, which develops medical imaging technology.
Jacqueline Duvoisin, regional director of Elsevier, said that her company has been active in the region for several years. It has firsthand experience of the digitization process, she explained.
“We’ve moved from being a publisher that publishes books and journals that specialize in health care and science, to supplying them in digital form,” she said.
Digital health services are already making an impact in the Kingdom and are helping to connect patients and providers more easily. Vision 2030 includes a plan to establish a unified medical hub for the Kingdom to make it easier for patients to access their medical data from anywhere in the country. The minsitry has launched several initiatives to make consumers here more digitally aware.


Saudi diving enthusiasts go overboard again … with a raft of essential safety precautions

The Red Sea — one of the most beautiful seas for diving — will greatly encourage local tourism, says diving instructor Lujain Shugdar. She wants to have divers from abroad visit SaudiArabia. (Supplied)
Updated 05 July 2020

Saudi diving enthusiasts go overboard again … with a raft of essential safety precautions

  • Before starting the trip, divers will be briefed on the hygienic and safety measures and social distancing rules, with a full explanation on how to use sanitizers and face masks

JEDDAH: It’s almost business as usual again for many across Saudi Arabia after the lifting of lockdown — and divers are more excited than ever to be back at sea. Divers in the Kingdom are following the safety precautions issued by the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health and the General Directorate of Border Guard.
Lujain Shugdar, diving instructor at Jeddah’s Natlus Divers and two international organizations — the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) and SNSI — and who has taught more than 150 students, said that the group had been on six diving trips since the lifting of lockdown.
Although international flights are yet to resume to the Kingdom, with the abundance of beautiful coral reefs along the Red Sea, Shugdar said that she wanted diving to be one of the main tourist activities in Saudi Arabia.
“The Red Sea is one of the most beautiful seas in the world for diving; it will greatly encourage tourism in the Kingdom. I want to encourage tourism in the Kingdom — whether for locals to enjoy or have divers from abroad visit us (later on),” she said.


With more than 30 years of service, Natlus offers many different activities such as free-diving, technical diving and recreational diving.
Shugdar said that Natlus were following the directives of the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Health to comply with full safety standards.
She explained that as directed by the authorities, the number of divers and people on a diving boat was half its normal capacity.
“We sanitize the boat and equipment before people board it. We also make sure all safety devices are working, and we add additional oxygen cylinders on board in case there is a need to use it. It’s usually one cylinder, but now we will add one regular cylinder and another big cylinder on the boat.”
“Before starting the trip, divers will be briefed on the hygienic and safety measures and social distancing rules, with a full explanation on how to use sanitizers and face masks. There will also be gloves and they will be changeable; a closed waste bin will also be available on board,” she said.
One can sense her feeling of relief and excitement after months away from the sea. When the authorities announced the return of diving and watersports activities, Shugdar immediately booked a diving trip.
“The sea is where you relieve stress from your personal and work life. It has a huge impact on one’s happiness and well-being. I’m so excited about this decision, and of course will follow all safety precautions to ensure our health and the health of the divers with us on board,” she said.
Saudi diver, Mishael Abdulaziz, 29, said that diving was one of the least likely sport activities to transmit COVID-19 as equipment was not usually shared.
“We don’t usually share equipment. Equipment is only shared during the very rare event of an out-of-air emergency,” she told Arab News.
“An out-of-air emergency is when one of the divers runs out of air unexpectedly due to poor planning or inattentiveness to the pressure gauge or air supply. In this instance, a buddy will share his or her air with the out-of-air diver.”
Even though dive centers thoroughly clean their equipment, many divers are encouraged to buy their own regulators as opposed to renting them to further avoid transmission.


Saudi-based Captain Issam Kalasina, King Abdullah Economic City’s (KAEC) Bay La Sun Marina Watersports and Yacht Club operations manager, said that they were very happy with the return of the activity, but there was a need to exercise caution.
Kalasina, who has been in the diving business for 42 years, told Arab News: “We are very happy to come back and resume the activity — with a certain limit.
“Only half the capacity is allowed on board at the moment to avoid social distancing issues and to ensure all safety precautions are being met on board. The number of passengers has been limited to half,  captain and crew included,” he said.
Kalasina said that following the safety precautions required by the pandemic, captains were assigned to have on board gloves, masks, gel sanitizers and liquid sanitizers.
“The gel sanitizer is for the hands, and the liquid sanitizer is for objects on the boat,” he said.
“The boat is completely sanitized and rinsed before we accept passengers on board; it is then sanitized and rinsed again after the trip is over.”