Johnson & Johnson develops digital solutions to reduce time spent in hospitals

Johnson & Johnson develops digital solutions to reduce time spent in hospitals
The US-based company employs around 180 people in Saudi Arabia, nearly half of them Saudis, with a target to increase its Saudization rates by 20 percent in the next couple of years. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 27 November 2022

Johnson & Johnson develops digital solutions to reduce time spent in hospitals

Johnson & Johnson develops digital solutions to reduce time spent in hospitals

RIYADH: Johnson & Johnson, the global medical technology provider, is providing digital solutions that will shorten the time spent by patients in hospitals.

According to Marzena Kulis, managing director of Johnson & Johnson MedTech Middle East, the move is crucial in countries with lower bed capacity.

“The digital solutions that we currently offer help to shorten the time of patients’ stay, so the capacity can absorb more patients, especially in the geographies where capacity is limited,” Kulis said in an exclusive interview with Arab News.

“Our digital procedure software empowers, for example, surgical teams to design, apply and analyze surgical workflows. It provides valuable data analytics to reduce variability in surgery time, improve procedural efficiency and enhance education approaches,” she said.

Johnson & Johnson MedTech provides a broad range of medical technology devices used in interventional solutions, orthopedics and surgery. Their offerings include products to treat cardiovascular diseases, hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke, and a combination of products supporting hips, knees, trauma, spine and others.

“We want to strengthen this industry by tapping the full potential of technology to save and sustain and improve lives of patients through a wide array of potential technologies that can be applied in the healthcare sector,” she said. 

The company’s surgery portfolios include advanced and general surgery offerings. These devices are used predominantly in the professional fields by physicians, nurses, hospitals, eyecare professionals and clinics, according to a statement issued by the company.

“We apply the expertise in medical devices and advanced technology to ensure that our healthcare solutions are smarter, less invasive, and more personalized,” Kulis added.

The healthtech provider participated in the 33rd Annual Conference of the Saudi Heart Association, one of the largest cardiac meetings in the Middle East that were held in Riyadh from Oct. 13-15.

Heart of the matter

The company unveiled its “Get Smart About AFib” global campaign at the conference with cardiac scientists, caregivers, and several cardiac working groups to improve care and treatment for patients suffering from atrial fibrillation, or AFib.

AFib is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia, and nearly one in four adults currently over the age of 40 across the globe is at risk of developing it. According to statistics from Saudi Health Ministry, cardiovascular diseases account for 37 percent of all deaths in the Kingdom.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the disease to help reduce risks.

The health campaign will specifically focus on supporting education and detection of the life-threatening AFib condition that impacts nearly 40 million people globally.

Johnson & Johnson MedTech has been operating in the region for a couple of decades, establishing a headquarters in Riyadh back in 2017, along with two other offices in Jeddah and Dammam.

The US-based company employs around 180 people in Saudi Arabia, nearly half of them Saudis, with a target to increase its Saudization rates by 20 percent in the next couple of years.

“We are getting close to 50 percent in our medtech business, and we aim to grow by 10-20 percent in the next year or two,” said Kulis.

Kulis believes that the Saudi market is steadily growing and becoming one of the largest emerging markets for Johnson & Johnson. 

The digital solutions that we currently offer help to shorten the time of patients’ stay, so the capacity can absorb more patients, especially in the geographies where capacity is limited.

Marzena Kulis, Johnson & Johnson MedTech Middle East managing director

Saudi Arabia is planning to build medical facilities worth $13.8 billion by 2030, according to Faisal Durrani, Knight Frank’s partner and head of research in the Middle East.

“Vision 2030 has sharpened the focus on the public realm, liveability and habitability of Saudi cities. Wellness and well-being sit at its heart, with $13.8 billion worth of medical facilities expected to be built by the end of the decade,” Durrani told Arab News.

Digital health

The expenditure is part of a more comprehensive plan to invest $66.67 billion in the Kingdom’s healthcare infrastructure and boost private sector participation to 65 percent by 2030, targeting the privatization of 290 hospitals and 2,300 primary health centers.

“We look into the development of healthcare in the countries we operate in, and the healthcare market in Saudi Arabia is steadily growing, and we’ve seen and observed that for decades, and the forecast is to continue growing for the next decades as well,” Kulis said.

The Kingdom is expected to be the fastest-growing digital health market in the Gulf Cooperation Council, with the government allocating $1.5 billion for healthcare information technology and digital transformation programs.

Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel said during the opening of the digital event of the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society last year that digital technologies were one of the essential tools for dealing with the pandemic.

It helped develop the first interactive map of COVID-19 data, providing accurate statistics and employing AI to analyze data and make national strategic decisions.

The Kingdom is allocating about 14.4 percent of its 2022 budget to healthcare and social development, which amounts to $36.8 billion, the third largest expense after education and military, according to Dubai-based Omnia Health, a global medical directory.

With life expectancy in Saudi Arabia projected to increase from 76.4 to 81.8 years by 2050 and the Kingdom’s population expected to grow to 39.4 million by 2030, increased investment in the healthcare infrastructure and innovation is necessary to drive strong growth in the Kingdom’s healthcare sector, the medical directory reported.


Asia set to use half of world’s electricity by 2025: IEA report

Asia set to use half of world’s electricity by 2025: IEA report
Updated 08 February 2023

Asia set to use half of world’s electricity by 2025: IEA report

Asia set to use half of world’s electricity by 2025: IEA report

BERLIN: Asia will for the first time use half of the world’s electricity by 2025, even as Africa continues to consume far less than its share of the global population, according to a new forecast released on Wednesday by the International Energy Agency.
Much of Asia’s electricity use will be in China, a nation of 1.4 billion people whose share of global consumption will rise from a quarter in 2015 to a third by the middle of this decade, the Paris-based body said.
“China will be consuming more electricity than the European Union, United States and India combined,” said Keisuke Sadamori, the IEA’s director of energy markets and security.
By contrast, Africa — home to almost a fifth of world’s nearly 8 billion inhabitants — will account for just 3 percent of global electricity consumption in 2025.
“This and the rapidly growing population mean there is still a massive need for increased electrification in Africa,” said Sadamori.
The IEA’s annual report predicts that nuclear power and renewables such as wind and solar will account for much of the growth in global electricity supply over the coming three years. This will prevent a significant rise in greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector, it said.
Scientists say sharp cuts in all sources of emissions are needed as soon as possible to keep average global temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. That target, laid down in the 2015 Paris climate accord, appears increasingly doubtful as temperatures have already increased by more than 1.1 degrees Celsius since the reference period.
One hope for meeting the goal is a wholesale shift away from fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil toward low-carbon sources of energy. But while some regions are reducing their use of coal and gas for electricity production, in others consumption is increasing, the IEA said.
The 134-page also report warned that electricity demand and supply are becoming increasingly weather dependent, a problem it urged policymakers to address.
“In addition to drought in Europe, there were heat waves in India (last year),” said Sadamori. “Similarly, central and eastern China were hit by heat waves and drought. The US also saw severe winter storms in December, and all those events put massive strain on the power systems of these regions.”
“As the clean energy transition gathers pace, the impact of weather events on electricity demand will intensify due to the increased electrification of heating, while the share of weather-dependent renewables will continue to grow in the generation mix,” the IEA said. “In such a world, increasing the flexibility of power systems while ensuring security of supply and resilience of networks will be crucial."


Kenya’s integrated tax system helped raise number of active taxpayers by 5.8m, says revenue authority executive

Kenya’s integrated tax system helped raise number of active taxpayers by 5.8m, says revenue authority executive
Updated 08 February 2023

Kenya’s integrated tax system helped raise number of active taxpayers by 5.8m, says revenue authority executive

Kenya’s integrated tax system helped raise number of active taxpayers by 5.8m, says revenue authority executive

RIYADH: Kenya’s integrated tax system, also referred to as the “itax”, has helped raise the number of active taxpayers in the country by 5.8 million to hit 7.4 million in 2022, according to Mohamed Omar, the commissioner for strategy, innovation and risk management at the Kenya Revenue Authority.

 Speaking during a panel discussion on the first day of the Zakat, Customs, and Tax conference in Riyadh, Omar highlighted the significant impact of digitizing the tax system.

“The itax had an impact and we saw shifts in numbers. So, around 2014 there were 1.6 million active taxpayers, these were people who do regular returns and regular payments, the number in 2022 was 7.4 million, so that’s about more than four times,” he revealed.

He went on to explain that, as a result of digitizing the tax system, the growth in revenue was more than the nominal growth in the gross domestic product.

In addition to this, the filing system has also seen significant improvement.

“By 2017, 100 percent filing and payment was being done online; that was not happening before,” he stressed.

George Betselis, governor of the Independent Authority of Public Revenues in Greece, also spoke about the digitization of the tax system with a special focus on the COVID-19 pandemic era.

“During the pandemic, we needed to find digital solutions for at least being able to receive front end and provide front-end digital services. Our tax offices were closed, so we had to accommodate requests,” he said.

 The Zakat, Tax, and Customs conference aims to tackle global experiences in the fields and discuss the future of digitizing those sectors as well as propelling trade and protecting national security.


SNB Capital announces completion of $267m AT-1 sukuk

SNB Capital announces completion of $267m AT-1 sukuk
Updated 08 February 2023

SNB Capital announces completion of $267m AT-1 sukuk

SNB Capital announces completion of $267m AT-1 sukuk

RIYADH: SNB Capital on Wednesday announced the completion of a private placement Additional Tier 1 perpetual sukuk worth SR1 billion ($267 million).

According to an official statement, the transaction was received with overwhelming demand from a diverse investor base having a bid cover ratio of 2.1 times. Investors included financial institutions, public sector, qualified individual investors, corporates, family offices, asset managers and insurance companies.

Commenting on the development, Ammar Alkhudairy, the chairman of SNBC, said: “This issuance by SNBC is a pioneering endeavor that compliments and supports SNB’s group vision of being the premier financial services group in the region that provides seamless banking and capital markets support to the Kingdom’s ambitious growth plans”

The issuance, which is non-call for five years, was priced a fixed annual coupon rate of 5.8 percent with quarterly payment until the first call date. 

Rashid Sharif, CEO of SNBC, said: “The issuance further strengthens our capital base to continue our journey supporting the development of the Saudi Capital Market guided by Vision 2030 strategic goals and objectives.”


Closing Bell: TASI arrests downward slide; closes up 38 points to 10,508 

Closing Bell: TASI arrests downward slide; closes up 38 points to 10,508 
Updated 08 February 2023

Closing Bell: TASI arrests downward slide; closes up 38 points to 10,508 

Closing Bell: TASI arrests downward slide; closes up 38 points to 10,508 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index gained 38.22 points — or 0.37 percent — on Wednesday to close at 10,507.72. 

While MSCI Tadawul 30 Index edged up 0.21 percent to 1,439.54, the parallel market Nomu closed 0.76 percent higher to 19,212.09. 

TASI’s total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR3.41 billion ($910 million), with 99 stocks of the listed 224 advancing and 100 receding. 

Saudi Public Transport Co. was the topmost gainer, soaring 6.56 percent to SR17.54.  

Bupa Arabia for Cooperative Insurance Co. was the second-highest grosser, rising 3.82 percent to SR157.80. The company on Tuesday received Saudi Central Bank’s approval to renew its insurance activities license. The license is valid for three years, starting from March 26, 2023, the insurer informed Tadawul. 

The other top gainers were Alkhaleej Training and Education Co., Savola Group and Sahara International Petrochemical Co. All three stocks advanced within the 3-4 percent range. 

The worst-performing stock of the day was Banque Saudi Fransi, which dropped 4.63 percent to SR37.05. 

Other poor performers were Saudi British Bank, Al Alamiya for Cooperative Insurance Co., Riyad Bank and Amana Cooperative Insurance Co. 

Among sectoral indices, 13 of the 21 listed on the stock exchange declined; one remained flat while the rest advanced. 

On the announcements front, Elm Co.’s wholly owned subsidiary, Saudi Company for Electronic Information Exchange, inked a revenue-sharing agreement with Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority. 

The agreement’s value exceeds 5 percent of total revenue as per audited financial statements for 2021. The contract has no fixed value. Instead, it depends on the number of executed transactions, and the company receives a percentage of the fees of such transactions. 

The five-year agreement will provide customs electronic and operational services, starting from the issuance of the effective date certificate. Its share price fell 0.37 percent to SR375.60. 

Al Moammar Information Systems Co. and Mobile Telecommunication Co. Saudi Arabia, also known as Zain KSA, signed, on Feb. 7 a non-binding memorandum of understanding. 

The 12-month MoU will be renewed based on the two parties’ agreement, MIS said in a statement on Tadawul. 

As per the MoU, MIS and Zain KSA will explore potential opportunities for cooperation through the design, launch, and offering of certain products and services.  

MIS also signed another MoU with the Ministry of National Guard to support the digital transformation journey of the ministry by developing a data center strategy, information security, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies in the enterprise space. MIS’s share price rose 1.94 percent to SR94.50. 


Integration of zakat, tax bodies with customs to be completed in Q1: ZATCA governor 

Integration of zakat, tax bodies with customs to be completed in Q1: ZATCA governor 
Updated 08 February 2023

Integration of zakat, tax bodies with customs to be completed in Q1: ZATCA governor 

Integration of zakat, tax bodies with customs to be completed in Q1: ZATCA governor 

RIYADH: The complete merger of the General Authority of Zakat and Tax with the General Authority of Customs will be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2023, revealed ZATCA Gov. Suhail Mohammed Abanmi.  

While speaking at a panel discussion at the Zakat, Tax and Customs Conference in Riyadh on Wednesday, Abanmi said that ZATCA faced so many challenges to integrate these bodies, but it is successfully completing the process as the authority carried out several studies to understand the possible hurdles that may come up in the journey.  

The integration between Zakat, Tax and Customs bodies was happening in phases, and the merging process is now in its final stages.  

It was in 2021 that the Saudi cabinet approved the decision to merge the General Authority of Zakat and Tax with the General Authority of Customs, to form an umbrella authority named Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, in line with the Kingdom’s efforts to restructure government agencies to speed the implementation of the goals outlined in Vision 2030.  

“The decision to integrate tax and customs bodies was taken in 2021, and it will be completed by the first quarter of this year,” said Abanmi.  

He added: “The integration of tax and customs bodies is a huge remarkable achievement. We faced so many challenges. But we successfully overcome those hurdles by conducting a study. The study was well detailed, and we found solutions for these challenges.”  

During the panel discussion, Abanmi also outlined the benefits of integration and noted that these efforts will mutually benefit both the customers and the government.  

“As customers use the same channel after the integration of tax and customs, it will increase the efficiency of the operations and enhance the satisfaction levels of the users. By integrating the two bodies; tax and customs, we reduced the cost of operational expenses and capital costs, and this will help the government,” he said.  

Abanmi further noted that integrating zakat, tax and customs bodies will also enhance cybersecurity, and added that it will also help reduce risks and tax evasion.  

Talking about the feasibility study conducted before taking the merging decision, Abanmi noted: “The decision to integrate tax and customs bodies under a single umbrella was decided after a study. This study looked into several international studies and analyzed previous experiences of integration that happened in UK, Estonia, Portuguese, and South Africa.”