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SOCIAL ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN SAUDI ARABIA

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POVERTY

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DEMOGRAPHICS

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HEALTH

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Ministry of Health (MOH) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which takes charge of health care and hospitals, has made progress in most health and environmental areas listed in Agenda 21.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

The Council of Ministers Decree number 78 dated 3/7/1415 H, was issued to approve the recommendations of the Ministerial Committee of the Environment (MCE). Recommendation number 2.5 provides for the composition of a nationwide technical task force chaired by MOH and with membership from the Ministries of: Agriculture and Water;  Municipality and Rural Affairs; and Planning; the Meteorology and Environmental Protection Administration, and certain relevant agencies; it is charged with preparing a draft national strategy for health and the environment in the Kingdom.

The Minister of Health issued a decree providing for the formation of a committee charged with preparing a comprehensive public health system for the Kingdom with a view to upgrading the standard of health services. Five specific constraints need to be overcome: 

  1. there is an overlap of functions and competencies among agencies concerned with environmental issues and activities; 
  2. there is a lack of coordination among agencies concerned and their irregular meetings for consideration of urgent and new environmental issues; 
  3. there is need for material support of health and environmental activities; 
  4. there is a lack of databases and an information network which could link agencies concerned with the environment; and 
  5. there is a shortage of highly-qualified specialists in health and environmental sciences.

A number of proposals have been made to address these difficulties. These include: 

  1. enactment of legislation and rules which provide a regulatory framework concerned with terms of reference of each agency related to the environment; 
  2. invitation of committees concerned with the environment to regularly scheduled meetings in order to consider urgent and new environmental issues; 
  3. establishment of information databases, networks and centers at and among agencies concerned with the environment in order to facilitate exchange of information and expertise in this vital area; 
  4. provision of the resources necessary for achievement of the objectives and programs listed in the recommendations of Agenda 21, and various environmental activities; 
  5. provision of the necessary posts and support in order to attract specialized staff capable of keeping abreast of the numerous new developments in this area, and the progress of development in the Kingdom; and 
  6. support of training and scholarship programs with a view to upgrading natinal cadres engaged in the area of public health and the environment.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

Saudi Aramco's plan for the conservation of the environment states that the company guarantees that its operations will not cause unnecessary hazards which damage the environment or the public health, and will be carried out with the utmost care for the protection of the land, the air, and the water from harmful pollution. Each department in Saudi Aramco is responsible for guaranteeing the design and operation of its facilities in compliance with this plan, and ensuring that they will not cause unnecessary hazards to the environment of public health.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

The Ministry of Health implemented a comprehensive national program for tuberculosis control, and the ratio of incidence of pulmonary tuberculosis in the total population has dropped from about 17 : 100,000 in 1991 to 11:52 : 100,000 in 1995. Inoculation coverage in targeted diseases in 1995 was as follows:

Diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) Tetanus, and polio (DPTP) 96.0
Hepatitis - B 94.7
Measles 94.4
Tuberculosis 94.1
Mumps, and Rubella 92.0

Accordingly, incidence rates for these diseases have dropped noticeably.

Support of National Plans related to Hazardous Waste:

The current situation in MOH and private sector hospitals has been studied and coordination with the relevant agencies achieved with a view to finding effective approaches for the disposal of hazardous materials in proper scientific ways. A number of offers have been submitted by certain companies to engage in collection, transport, and processing the disposal of waste by the most modern means and technologies that take into consideration environmental factors with a view to choosing among technologies and formulating the necessary criteria and controls for practicing this activity.

Sound environmental management of solid waste:

A draft has been prepared for the terms and conditions for using certain waste components, in order to facilitate private sector participation in establishing projects for recycling and re-using solid waste. An investor has been awarded a contract for the treatment of waste in Jeddah, Riyadh, Qassim and Hail.

Control of the risks to environmental and human health from pesticides:

Consumption of insecticides was reduced nationwide at a rate of 22.1 percent during the period 1406-1416 H (1985-95) and the consumption of pesticide dilutants was reduced at a rate of 61 percent over the same period. In recent years, expansion in the use of non-traditional pesticides such as phenomenal insect control and other biological materials has reduced the usage of chemical pesticides known to have a negative impact on the environment.

Preventive Medicine and Operation Safety:

Within the framework of health regulations applicable in the company, Saudi Aramco adheres to protection against ailment and disease that may arise in areas of its facilities and operations, by means of application of the best available practices in preventive medicine. The company controls diseases arsing from food and water pollution through monitoring and control of the operations of the sewage treatment plants. A health education program has been prepared in the company to increase staff awareness and training in areas of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), chemical hazards, safety measures, and (first aid) treatment of patient. Through this program, (awareness) material is developed as well as the production of films and the dissemination of information. On the other hand, the program monitors occupational health hazards existing at the workplace, offers advice on how to minimize them, and monitors the health of staff vulnerable to these hazards.

Status   

Primary health care centers total 1,725, with a rate of 10,353 persons per center, and the services cover all villages and hamlets in all parts of the Kingdom. These centers provide both curative and preventive primary health care services, particulary immunization, mother and child care, and environmental sanitation services. The ratio of physicians to population is 1 : 1,154, and of dentist, 1 : 14,734.

In the area of current disease control, incidence per 100,000 population declined from 1991 to 1995 as follows:

Disease Rate/100,000 Rate/100,000
 

1991

1995

Meningitis

3.77

1.79

Hepatitis

68.25

30.98

Shigellosis (dysentary)

12.22

6.85

Typhoid and Paratyphoid

8.12

1.87

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

In the area of nutritional safety, health monitoring records have been updated; a manual of guidelines for health officers has been prepared; a task force has been formed to visit, in groups, various parts of the Kingdom in order to oversee provison of health conditions in outlets related to public health.

Company activities related to safety are designed to prevent or minimize the occurrence of accidents and therefore aim primarily at the prevention of loss in humans, as well as in hydrocarbons, and other materials which may have negative impact on the atmospheric, aquatic, and terrestrial environment. Training in handling and disposal of hazardous and toxic materials is considered part of the daily activities of the company.

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

The budget of the Ministry of Health is 4.9% of the total budget of the state.

Cooperation

Special Programs for Chemical Safety (CHEMSAFE)

The Ministry of Health conducted a specialized national training course in the area of chemical safety, disaster preparedness, and management in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). Officials and specialists from relevant ministries and agencies participated with the aim of developing skills in the areas of chemical safety, the role of curative and preventive medicine in preparedness for addressing chemical accidents, exchange of information, finding a coordinated approach among relevant agencies, and raising public awareness of chemical safety issues. Coordination with WHO is under way with a view to establishing an information network for the environment, chemical safety, and addressing emergencies.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia to the 5th session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: April 1997.

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EDUCATION

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

In collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the General Presidency for Girls' Education, MEPA has incorporated into school curricula a number of environmental concepts. It has also published and disseminated in the Kingdom and abroad the second edition of "Protection of the Environment in Islam" in Arabic, English and French, in collaboration with the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Cooperation  

MEPA supported the Saudi Environmental Awareness Program by conducting a number of training sessions for teachers of various educational levels in order to explain posters published on the environment by UNESCO.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia to the 5th session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: April 1997.

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HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Ministry of Municipalities and Rural Affairs (MOMRA) is responsible for the administration of municipalities throughout the Kingdom, including the planning of cities and towns; the development of roads and basic infrastructure; and the management and maintenance of services to keep cities and towns clean and healthy.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

By the end of the Fifth Five-Year (1990-1995), the Kingdom had provided services, utilities and housing for everybody. MOMRA played an effective role in implementing projects within its jurisdiction. Interim boundaries of urban expansion have been identified to alleviate the pressure of demand on utility networks to supply scattered residential areas lying far away from urban blocks and allowing for use of the surplus capacity of the existing utility networks.

The Ministry of Municipalities and Rural Affairs has devised strategies aimed at addressing consequences of population growth through comprehensive supervision of urban development, and it has prepared a long-term strategy for guiding urban planning, based on a set of long-term and specific national development objectives.

MOMRA is also making great efforts to improve the quality of the urban environment through planning for the provision of urban infrastructures and the enhancement of public utilities.

Programmes and Projects   

Acquisition of land is considered one of the most essential fundamentals for the provision of housing as well as production and services activities for the population. Since the increasing cost of land is considered an impediment to the provision of appropriate housing for everybody, the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has adopted a system that ensures citizens' ownership of land for building houses through government grants and the provision of interest-free loans. The current activities of MOMRA in this area are:

Water networks have been expanded nationwide, to a total length of 33 million meters, and with a total of 823,000 household connections. By the end of the Sixth Five-Year Plan, 36 projects for drinking water are expected to have been implemented in towns not yet covered by the services of the water and sewerage directorates, at a cost of SR 556 million (U.S. $180 million).

Sewerage networks nationwide total 8,883,000 meters, with 532,000 connections; this is in addition to storm drains in the major cities and numerous towns suffering from rain and flood problems. It is expected that 186 sewage projects will be implemented at a cost of SR 30 billion (U.S. $9 billion) and 30 storm drains at a cost of SR 1.437 billion (U.S. $0.4 billion).

The most important activities achieved are (1) urban heritage programs which aim at protection and repair of historic buildings as well as cultural antiquities; (2) development of city centers with a view to restoring their role as commercial and cultural focal points; and (3) involvement of municipalities in increasing environmental awareness.
 

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This information was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: April 1997.

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