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Swine flu vaccines to be tested before being given to patients.

Mohammed Rasooldeen | Arab News <p>RIYADH: Swine flu vaccines that are arriving in the Kingdom shortly will be tried and tested before they are given to patients, Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah told the Health Services Council on Sunday night.

At the 49th meeting held at his office the minister explained that so far the ministry was handling the swine flu cases successfully and was able to keep the disease at bay. He commended the strategy implemented by the National Scientific Committee to combat swine flu and also its sustained efforts in preventing the disease successfully. He pointed out that the cases of swine flu reported during the Umrah season this year were minimal despite millions of pilgrims came.

According to Health Ministry records there have been over 3,500 confirmed cases of H1N1 in Saudi Arabia, which were mostly cured. So far only 28 fatalities have been reported throughout the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Dr. Yacoub Al-Mazrou, secretary-general of the Health Services Council, said that among the other issues taken up for discussion included setting up of a National Committee for Autism and health plans for the forthcoming Haj season.

The Ministry of Health has also sought public opinion to plan a national strategy for complementary and alternative medicine in the Kingdom.

"We welcome suggestions to plan out a national strategy to implement the program," Dr. Abdullah Al-Baddah, executive director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the Ministry of Health, told Arab News on Monday. He said that the ministry has sent out a questionnaire to intellectuals, management experts and medical professionals throughout the Kingdom seeking their honest opinion and suggestions for the program.

"Based on this report, we will prepare a study which will be submitted to the relevant authorities for necessary action," he added.

The questionnaire invites opinion on the merits and disadvantages of alternative medicine, ways and means of creating public awareness, research activities, international cooperation and how it could be coordinated with the regular medical institutions in colleges and universities in the Kingdom.

In an earlier statement Al-Baddah said: "Alternative medicines that have not been approved by the Saudi Food and Drugs Administration (SFDA) could lead to people losing their lives." He made the comments at a speech he delivered in Riyadh entitled "Wrong Practices in Alternative Medicine."

Al-Baddah also stressed that all medicines should be approved by the Ministry of Health. He added that people resort to alternative medicine due to price differences and when mainstream medicines fail to cure their illnesses.

"A lack of training in alternative medicine makes their practitioners vulnerable to errors. Some centers that provide alternative medicine are still not licensed, a fact that makes their practices illegal," he said.

In spite of advertisements about herbal and natural cures for health problems being common on Arabic television, alternative medicine is not yet recognized in the GCC states.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Oct 14, 2009
Words:494
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