Joint front formed to combat Zika, MERS and communicable diseases

Health Minister Khalid Al-Falih. (SPA)

Health Minister Khalid Al-Falih. (SPA)

The Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Municipal and Rural Affairs have put in place a joint strategy to fight epidemiological diseases, including Zika virus and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, in the Kingdom.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the ministers for effective efforts to fight against the diseases.

The meeting was held on Monday and was attended by Health Minister Khalid Al-Falih, Municipal and Rural Affairs Minister Abdul Lateef Al-Asheikh and Agriculture Minister Abdul Rahman Al-Fadhli.

Since June 2012, there have been 1,296 cases of the MERS virus in the Kingdom with some 554 deaths. As of now, there has been no case of Zika virus in the Kingdom since it was first reported in Latin America.

The World Health Organization says Zika is a mosquito-borne virus first identified in rhesus monkeys in Uganda in 1947. It subsequently appeared in humans in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania. Outbreaks of Zika virus have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. In addition, more than 13 countries in the Americas have reported sporadic Zika virus infections indicating a rapid geographic expansion of the virus. The virus is spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

Cases of Rift Valley Fever and dengue fever in the Kingdom have been controlled.

The ministers felt the need for regular spraying with insecticides is important in areas where there are mosquitoes and their breeding grounds.

The ministers also called attention to the travel advisory issued by the Ministry of Health against traveling to countries affected by the Zika virus.

The World Health Organization has declared Zika a public health emergency of international concern.

The ministers agreed on the need to look at these diseases in terms of overall health, and strengthening the role of the Saudi Center for Diseases Control as a comprehensive umbrella to preserve the national health.


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