Saudi Arabian
 

STATEMENT

BY

H.E. DR. YACOUB BIN YOUSSOUF AL-MASRUWAH
DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH FOR PREVENTIVE MEDICINE

BEFORE THE

TWENTY-SIXTH SPECIAL SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON THE
REVIEW OF THE PROBLEM OF HUMAN
IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS/ACQUIRED IMMUNEDEFICIENCY SYNDROME (HIV/AIDS)

NEW YORK, 27 JUNE 2001


 
 

MR. PRESIDENT, EXCELLENCIES,

IT IS FOR THE FIRST TIME THAT A SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY IS HELD TO DISCUSS THE IMPORTANT AND VITAL PROBLEM OF AIDS.

IN A TIME WHEN THE WORLD HAS BECOME ONE VILLAGE THROUGH THE ADVANCES IN TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATION AND AT A TIME WHEN THE RAMPANT EPIDEMIC OF AIDS AND RESULTING LIFE-THREATENING FORMS OF DISEASE HAVE NOT BEEN MET WITH AN EFFECTIVE VACCINATION OR A SUCCESSFUL REMEDY, MANKIND SHOULD CONCENTRATE ON FIGHTING THIS HEALTH HAZARD THROUGH IMPLEMENTATION OF EFFECTIVE PREVENTIVE MEASURES. COORDINATION AND CO-OPERATION AMONG ALL COUNTRIES IS PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT IN THIS REGARD.

IN THE YEAR 2000 ALONE, 5.3 MILLION NEW CASES OF AIDS HAVE BEEN RECORDED, WITH INCREASING PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN. THIS IS ENOUGH TO PROVE THE NEED FOR ACTION BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY WITH ITS GOVERNMENTAL, CIVIC AND PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS. THE GOVERNMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA REALIZES HOW DANGEROUS THIS EPIDEMIC IS AND HOW THREATENING IT IS TO HUMAN SOCIETY ALL OVER THE

WORLD. IT SHARES WITH OTHER GOVERNMENTS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF FACING UP TO THE TASK OF STEMMING THE SPREAD OF THIS EPIDEMIC AND DOING EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO FIGHT IT AND PREVENT ITS FURTHER EXPANSION.

THE KINGDOM IS COMMITTED TO THE INTERNATIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS AND STRATEGIES THAT ARE IN CONFORMITY WITH THE TEACHINGS OF ISLAM. IT ENDORSES AND WELCOMES ALL THE EFFORTS OF OFFICIALS AND CIVIC BODIES AT THE INTERNATIONAL, REGIONAL AND LOCAL LEVELS, AND THE ACCOMPANYING EXCHANGE OF EXPERIENCE AND THE MEETINGS AT ALL LEVELS CONSECRATED TO FIGHTING THE DISEASE.

WITHIN ITS JURISDICTION, THE GOVERNMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA PROVIDES ALL PREVENTIVE AND CURATIVE SERVICES TO ITS CITIZENS AND RESIDENTS. IT FOLLOWS CLOSELY THE INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS, INCLUDING THOSE OF THE UNITED NATIONS, THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS OF WHICH THE KINGDOM IS A MEMBER. IT SUPPORTS ALL THEIR EFFORTS TOWARDS CONTROLLING THIS DISEASE.

TO CONTROL THE INTRUSION OF THE MALADY IN THE KINGDOM, THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH HAS SET-UP A PLAN FOR CARRYING OUT A NATIONAL PROGRAM AT THE CENTRAL LEVEL (THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH) AND THE REGIONAL LEVEL (DIRECTORIES OF HEALTH).

ON THE CENTRAL LEVEL, THE NATIONAL PROGRAM TO COMBAT AIDS WAS ESTABLISHED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE STRATEGY TO COMBAT THE DISEASE AND PROTECT THE COUNTRY FROM ITS SPREADING. A SCIENTIFIC CONSULTING COMMITTEE WAS ESTABLISHED TO ASSIST THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH IN DEALING WITH THE TECHNICAL ASPECTS RELATED TO AIDS, SUCH AS SELECTING THE MEDICATIONS AND LABORATORY ACTIVITIES FOR HEALTH PROVIDERS IN CLINICS AND COORDINATORS IN THE NATIONAL PROGRAM AND IN THE REGIONS. IT ALSO PLANS AWARENESS STRATEGY AGAINST THE DISEASE. THE PROGRAM SETS UP AND EXECUTES PREVENTIVE MEASURES AGAINST AIDS AND OTHER SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES. IT ALSO REVIEWS AND RECORDS LISTS OF DISCOVERED CASES IN VARIOUS REGIONS, INSURES FOLLOW-UP PROCEDURES AND PREVENTIVE MEASURES FOR THE PATIENTS AND THEIR PARTNERS.

ON THE LOCAL LEVEL, COORDINATORS WERE APPOINTED FOR THE NATIONAL PROGRAM TO COMBAT AIDS AROUND THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA, WHERE A FOLLOW-UP OF THE CASES IS CONDUCTED, ADVANCE REMEDIES AND PREVENTIVE MEASURES ARE OFFERED FOR THE PATIENT AND THEIR PARTNERS, AND THESE PATIENTS ARE FOLLOWED-UP BY CONSULTANTS IN THE FIELD OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES. THE LOCAL CENTERS CONDUCT THE MEDICAL SURVEILLANCE AND SURVEYS OF HIGH RISK GROUPS.

THE NUMBER OF PATIENTS INFECTED WITH AIDS IN THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA IS SMALL NOT EXCEEDING 440 CASES SINCE 1985. THE REASON FOR THIS IS THE ADHERENCE TO THE RELIGION OF ISLAM WHICH PROHIBITS SEXUAL RELATIONS OUTSIDE THE CONFINES OF MARRIAGE. INSPITE OF THIS, AN AWARENESS CAMPAIGN WAS ESTABLISHED BY USING THE MEDIA TO ALL GROUPS, ESPECIALLY THE YOUNG, WHO ARE THE HIGHEST RISK GROUP. THE PROGRAM EMPHASIZES ADHERENCE TO ISLAMIC TEACHINGS AND EXPLAINING THE DANGERS OF THE DISEASE, ITS COMPLICATIONS, THE WAY IT SPREADS, AND WAYS TO AVOID IT.