Belgian Ambassador Marc Vinck said Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah is expected to leave for Belgium in September for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on e-health partnership with his Belgian counterpart Laurette Onkelinx.
“Dr. Al-Rabeeh was extended an invitation to visit Belgium when Crown Prince Philippe came to the Kingdom in October 2009 as part of a Belgian economic mission. He and Al-Rabeeah discussed ways of improving bilateral agreement in the health sector and it was decided that this could be done through an MoU,” Vinck told Arab News in an interview over the weekend.
The Belgian envoy called on Al-Rabeeah recently and renewed the invitation for him to visit Belgium. “During the meeting, it was agreed that Al-Rabeeah will leave in autumn,” he said.
Vinck said that Al-Rabeeah insisted that the Belgian offer in the MoU should include the transfer of technology in e-health as well as the dissemination of information on it by Belgian drug companies with operations in the Kingdom.
He said Agfa, a Belgian firm which is a big e-health player in Canada, is in a very good position to help the Kingdom in connection with the agreement between the two countries.
Explaining e-health, Vinck — who granted the interview just before he left for Belgium — said it involves imaging technology and interconnectivity of health centers under the Saudi Ministry of Health.
“It also involves exchange of information between the Kingdom and Belgium even before a patient reaches hospital. For this purpose, a patient has a code with which such information could be transmitted,” he said.
Vinck also said that during the meeting, he gleaned great insights from the Saudi health minister on e-health implementation in the Kingdom.
“The project has been carried out at different levels and our discussion centered on ways to secure in a better way the Belgian offer,” he said.
He said that apart from Agfa, many Belgian companies in the health sector
could also help in the implementation of the partnership.
Vinck also had the opportunity to discuss with Al-Rabeea health care activities in Belgium, which was among the leading countries in global heath care in 2010-2011.
Vinck expressed optimism regarding relations between the two countries. He said that the first group of Saudi students to study in leading institutions of learning in Belgium had been identified.
“The first batch of six Saudi students are about to leave, if they have not yet left, to study in different universities and colleges in Belgium,” he said. Vinck said that Belgium is among countries that have renowned universities.