Riyadh’s global healthcare forum explores post-COVID recovery

The Saudi Food and Drug Authority prioritizes sustainable production — which contributes to the preservation of the planet — and female empowerment, in line with Saudi Vision 2030 and G20 strategies. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 November 2020

Riyadh’s global healthcare forum explores post-COVID recovery

  • Panel discusses experiences and ideas about sustainable production and supply in the global health sector

JEDDAH: A two-day global healthcare forum began in Riyadh on Wednesday.
The third Saving Lives Sustainably: Sustainable Production in the Health Sector Global Forum is running on the sidelines of the G20 Saudi Presidency under the theme “Recovering Better after COVID-19 with Sustainable Production and Procurement of Health Commodities.”
The forum has been organized by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA), the G20 Saudi Secretariat, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Secretariat of the UN informal Interagency Task Team on Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector (SPHS) and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
The first day of the forum featured keynote speakers including Hisham Aljadhey, SFDA’s president; the governor of Saudi Customs, Ahmed Al-Hakbani; Swedish Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Niclas Trouvé; the UNDP resident representative for Saudi Arabia Adam Charles Bouloukos; the World Health Organization’s (WHO) country representative for Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait Dr. Ibrahim El-Ziq; and the co-founder of Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), Gary Cohen.
In addition, dozens of scholars and experts from around the world are participating in 13 discussion panels and sessions.
Participants will discuss experiences of and ideas about sustainable production and supply in the global health sector, responsible business behavior, medical and safety devices, food safety and risk assessment, supply chains, and how the world is preparing for future health crises.
“Early this year, as a result of this pandemic, humanity woke up to an unprecedented and dire experience, which paralyzed movement and changed the rules of life and caused a heavy blow to the global economy and supply chain, threatening global access to food and medicine,” Aljadhey said in his opening remarks.
He went on to highlight how Saudi Arabia had become one of “the top 10 countries in containing the economic consequences of COVID-19” and how, by the end of 2020, Saudi Arabia would be “one of the least affected countries by the pandemic.”
“Supported by actual numbers and evidence, Saudi Arabia has led an international and humanitarian approach that makes us proudly say: Let’s inspire the world with our summits,” he said.
Aljadhey said the SFDA prioritizes sustainable production — which contributes to
the preservation of the planet — and female empowerment, in line with Saudi Vision 2030 and G20 strategies.
Trouvé, the Swedish ambassador, said in the opening session that the world needs healthcare systems that can “adapt swiftly to new challenges; and the global community needs to step up its efforts to ensure access to quality healthcare for all.”
Achieving this, he added, requires a “holistic view of procurement,” the improvement of hospital workflows and investment in professional education.
The envoy cited an example of international solidarity between Saudi Arabia and Sweden, in which the latter facilitated the delivery of 2,240 ventilators to the Kingdom. “In hard times, friends and global cooperation like this is more necessary than ever before,” he said.
He also stressed that health care supply chains must be properly monitored to avoid “harmful production processes and improper disposal of healthcare products, which contribute to climate change and environmental degradation.”
Bouloukos echoed his point, noting that humanity, collectively, has exploited the planet through the inefficient use and depletion of its natural resources. “In a quest for a better life — and sometimes a more consumption-based life — we’ve jeopardized future generations by triggering climate change,” he said.
However, he stressed that the potential exists to “decarbonize and detoxify” the health sector, citing examples from around the world that could be replicated globally. “There is no shortage of good ideas,” he said. “We just have to apply them.”
Bouloukos concluded his speech by hailing the Kingdom’s G20 presidency and its hosting of the event. “This year has been full of outward-looking efforts of the Kingdom. The G20 is a catalyst for that outward vision,” he said. “It is evident that Saudi Arabia is not only a regional leader but a global one.”
 


Saudi vegan bodybuilder slams diet myths

Nutrition is the most important part when it comes to bodybuilding, then comes type of exercise, and good rest. (AFP)
Updated 29 November 2020

Saudi vegan bodybuilder slams diet myths

  • Ali Al-Salam, who stopped consuming animal products in 2017, says certain steps must be completed to have an athletic body

JEDDAH: The vegan diet has risen in popularity in Saudi Arabia in recent years and has been a constant topic of debate among Saudis, attracting the interest of many, including athletes.

Ongoing debates about whether the vegan diet is sufficient for normal people, let alone bodybuilders, abound, but one Saudi is answering them physically.
Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes all animal products from diets, clothing or any other purposes.
Over the years, a number of studies have found that people who eat vegan or vegetarian diets have a lower risk of heart disease, but other studies have also placed them at a higher risk of stroke, possibly due to the lack of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin that reduces the risk of anemia and neurological diseases.
Speaking to Arab News, 33-year-old Saudi vegan bodybuilder, Ali Al-Salam, who first started his vegan diet three years ago when he was suffering from high blood pressure, highlighted that the consumption of animal products is a deep rooted idea among bodybuilders and athletes.
“We always hear that in order to build muscle, we must consume animal products. In some parts of the world, there are people who can only have a small amount of animal products yet they live their lives healthily and comfortably and are not suffering from malnutrition — on the contrary, they have a lower level of chronic illnesses.”

When I consumed meat and animal products, I suffered from high blood pressure; it was 190 over 110, and I wasn’t even 30 yet. Two weeks into the vegan diet, it went down to 150. The vegan diet did what couldn’t be done with medications for me.

Ali Al-Salam, Saudi vegan bodybuilder

He said it also opened his eyes to what goes on in the dairy and meat industry; he began researching in 2016 and decided to become vegan in 2017.
“I was just like every other athlete, I used to consume a high amounts of protein. I remember in the last days before turning vegan, I used to have 10 egg whites and a piece of steak for breakfast to fulfil my protein needs. This made me think, ‘is this the only way to consume protein?’ And from then on, I started researching and got introduced to the vegan diet at a larger scale,” he said.
“When I consumed meat and animal products, I suffered from high blood pressure; it was 190 over 110, and I wasn’t even 30 yet. Two weeks into the vegan diet, it went down to 150. The vegan diet did what couldn’t be done with medications for me.”
He explained that bodybuilding does not solely rely on protein, and that there are steps that must be completed in order to reach an athletic body. Nutrition is the most important part, then comes type of exercise, and good rest.
“When we talk about good nutrition, it does not just rely on protein. Yes, it is important, but the amount of calories in general is more important,” he said.
“Let’s say you needed 200 grams of protein, does that mean if you consumed 200 grams of it, you would gain muscle? No. You need all the basic nutrients to reach a certain amount of calories in general,” he added.
He highlighted that as soon as people register for gym memberships, they immediately look for supplements because they think they cannot reach the needed amount of protein.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes all animal products from diets, clothing or any other purposes.

• Over the years, a number of studies have found that people who eat vegan or vegetarian diets have a lower risk of heart disease.

• But other studies have also placed them at a higher risk of stroke, possibly due to the lack of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin that reduces the risk of anemia and neurological diseases.

• Vegan athletes have more endurance, strength and faster muscle recovery, because the vegan diet is rich in antioxidants.

• Animal products sometimes cause inflammation, that your body needs to recover from in the first place.

“I’m talking about non-vegans here too, where their protein intake is already high. Marketing plays a big role here. People link protein to animal products because our society grew up with this idea as well.
“Can a vegan build muscle? Yes, when they eat right, exercise correctly and rest well. The misconception about protein stems from amino acids. People think vegan food lacks amino acids, and only animal products are full of them and that is far from the truth,” he added.
When comparing vegan athletes to regular athletes, he said vegan athletes have more endurance, strength and faster muscle recovery, because the vegan diet is rich in antioxidants which helps greatly in recovery, and because “animal products sometimes cause inflammation, that your body needs to recover from in the first place.”