Speaking today on the occasion of World Health Day, Minister of Health Dr. Osama Shobokshi said that this year's slogan is "New infectious diseases and international alertness to them". While not denying the seriousness of new epidemic diseases like aids and ebola, Dr. Shobokshi said that there are indications that a number of old diseases which were earlier under control, such as cholera, plague, yellow fever and tuberculosis, might again threaten mankind. He underscored the importance of taking the necessary measures to prevent the spread of all these dangerous diseases, for example correct sanitation habits and health awareness programs.
Dr. Shobokshi added that general health conditions in Saudi Arabia are excellent, and medical facilities are available to all throughout the Kingdom. The current Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (1995-1999) underscores the importance of health services and the development of both clinical and preventive services, giving special attention to chronic diseases such as blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and hereditary illness. There are now 285 hospitals, both government and private, with a total of 42,076 beds, supported by more than 2,310 primary health care centers. There are 30,306 physicians, of whom 16.3 percent are Saudis. In addition, there are 35,678 nurses, and 18,345 lab technicians.
In the last few years, four new government hospitals have been opened, two with 100 beds and two with 30 beds. Currently under construction are the King Fahd Medical City in Riyadh, which will have 1,425 beds, and Al-Khaleej Hospital in Dammam, with 650 beds, in additon to three 200-bed hospitals and one 100-bed hospital in other parts of the Kingdom.
Furthermore, in order to improve the health and medical services, the Ministry of Health has set up a blood donation program and opened fifty anti-smoking clinics in various parts of the Kingdom.
Following an inspection tour of all health facilities at the Islamic Port in Jeddah on Saturday, Minister of Health Dr. Shobokshi reaffirmed the Kingdom's concern for the well-being of the pilgrims, and said a vaccination campaign had been successfully carried out prior to their arrival in the Kingdom. He said that the health condition of incoming pilgrims is excellent, and praised the efforts made by the personnel of the Islamic Port and those of other concerned bodies. He reported that the Ministry of Health has recruited 14,000 employees to look after the health of the pilgrims in Makkah, Madinah and the Holy Sites, and the hospitals and health centers have been provided with excellent equipment and well-trained staff.