Decrease in infectious diseases in Saudi Arabia: Ministry of Health

Riyadh (IINA) - There has been a decrease in the incidence of infectious diseases in the Kingdom, according to the Ministry of Health.

Ministry spokesman Meshal Al-Rubaian said the incidence of mumps went down by 87 percent compared to 2000; pertussis or whooping cough decreased by 78 percent; and neonatal tetanus dropped by 79 percent, local media quoted him as saying.

Al-Rubaian added that the incidence of chickenpox also went down by 86 percent; new hepatitis infections by 97 percent; and meningococcal infection by 98 percent. He said that through the National Immunization Program (NIP), the incidence of polio has been reduced by 87 percent compared to 2000. Al-Rubaian said that the last case of the disease in the Kingdom was in 1995, citing the certificate which the Kingdom received in 1997, indicating that it was free of poliomyelitis.

According to an official from the Ministry of Health, a total of 212,130 pilgrims were checked for vaccinations and the ministry had to give the oral polio vaccine to 88,588 pilgrims who had not taken the dose. The Madinah Health Affairs Directorate has called upon all domestic pilgrims to take the necessary vaccines before performing Hajj this year. Vaccines against seasonal flu and meningitis are available at primary health care centers across the region.

More than 6,000 health professionals have been mobilized in Madinah to ensure pilgrims' good health and to provide visitors with the required medical services. In addition, 300 specialists, 28 visiting staff and 70 health teams have been hired to provide the necessary technical support during this Hajj Season in Madinah.

Ten hospitals, with a bed capacity of 2,028 beds, are set to receive patients as necessary. The health facilities include Al-Ansar, Ohud, King Fahd, Madinah Maternity and Children, Pilgrims City (Chest), Khaibar, Al-Henakiah and Al-Hemnah hospitals, in addition to cardiology centers. There are 13 additional primary health care centers equipped with state-of-the-art equipment.

Earlier, the ministry said that vaccination against meningitis is mandatory for all local and foreign pilgrims. The flu vaccine is not mandatory but it is desirable to take it considering the climate and susceptibility of pilgrims. The official advised high-risk patients � those with ailments such as diabetes, hypertension and renal problems � to take the flu vaccine, which will help them perform their Hajj and Umrah rituals without problems.

Source: International Islamic News Agency