Award-winning Saudi health care organization homes in on global awareness day

Princess Adila bint Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, chairperson of National Home Health Care Foundation’s board of trustees, says We Care will continue to spread awareness of home health care services. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 18 October 2019

Award-winning Saudi health care organization homes in on global awareness day

  • National Home Health Care Foundation promotes We Care identity after GCC honor
  • The Saudi home care awareness day will be the first of its kind to be adopted as a global calendar day for the World Health Organization

JEDDAH: In preparation for its adoption as a global day, the National Home Health Care Foundation (NHHCF) has launched its “We Care” social initiative which will be celebrated annually on Dec. 8 as a Saudi awareness event.

The announcement of the NHHCF’s new We Care identity came after it received an excellence award from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The slogan, approved by the Saudi Ministry of Health, is based on the foundation’s belief in the vital role of civil society institutions in launching community development initiatives to serve the country and citizens, while enhancing their responsibility toward society.

Princess Adila bint Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, chairperson of the NHHCF board of trustees, told a press conference at Jeddah’s Hilton hotel recently that We Care would continue to spread awareness of home health care services within the community.

“A hospital bed can cost a patient some SR2,000 ($533) a day. If that patient’s case is stable according to a consultant’s recommendation, the service can be provided to the patient at home for less than SR300.

INNUMBERS

  • In 2018, the foundation was able to serve 16,034 patients with 24,185 medical and social services.
  • In the same year, the foundation made more than 29,400 visits to patients in Tabuk, Hail and Jazan. It also carried out nearly 272,000 patient visits in Jeddah, Madinah, Asir, Baha, Najran and Riyadh.
  • In 2017, the foundation provided 10,237 patients with more than 11,390 medical services.
  • Since its establishment 22 years ago, it has helped more than 93,390 patients with at least 140,500 services.

“It is a cost-effective service with the same care quality in an environment that patients desire, which is home,” said the princess.

She added that similar services had been operating in the West for decades.

Her comments came after the NHHCF won the GCC award of excellence for its “We Care 360” app, a leading project in social work and sustainable development. The app was launched by the president of King Abdul Aziz University on May 13 in the presence of Princess Adila.

The Saudi home care awareness day will be the first of its kind to be adopted as a global calendar day for the World Health Organization (WHO) and is credited to Saudi Arabia.

Abeer Kabbani, vice president and head of fundraising and public relations, told Arab News that the logo for the initiative had been inspired by the shomagh (Saudi male head cover), and would be the permanent logo for the occasion.

She said help was available in the provision of various medical devices. 

“These include electrical beds, air mattresses, industrial respirators, oxygen generators, electric wheelchairs, all kinds of electrical devices, blood sugar, blood pressure and oxygen measuring devices.”

Kabbani told Arab News that “360” in the app’s name referred to the 360 degrees in a circle. “This circle represents the cycle of our service; from the time a patient first receives it until they send us feedback on the quality of the service.”

She added that the app was launched in line with the foundation’s plans to utilize technology for the benefit of patients.

The NHHCF was established in Riyadh in 1997 under the auspices of Princess Hissah bint Tiradh Al-Shaalan, wife of the late King Abdullah, to care for the growing number of patients with terminal illnesses following their discharge from public hospitals.

 

Medical equipment

It is a nonprofit organization that aims to maximize quality of life for patients within the home environment, and its western region branch was founded later in 1997 with Princess Adila as its head. She has presided over the NHHCF throughout the Kingdom since 2014.

“The foundation provides patients with necessary medical equipment and consumable supplies and lends them a hand to become self-reliant, independent and productive members of society,” the princess said.

She pointed out that the foundation gave advice to patients’ families on how to assist with health care. 

“We have also signed a number of agreements and partnerships to help patients easily get all the medical assistance they need.”

Fourteen years ago, the NHHCF collaborated with King Abdul Aziz University Hospital’s Home Health Care Center to provide funding to pay for patients’ medical expenses. Other similar centers in Saudi cities, including Madinah and Asir, were supported in the same way.

In 2015, the foundation provided more than 9,500 services to patients. “The NHHCF also works closely with hospitals to identify patient needs for medical equipment,” Princess Adila said.

She added that the foundation accepted eligible patients of all ages.

The princess, who chairs an all-female board of trustees, added that the foundation was looking to work more closely with media organizations.

“We have been focusing more on work than media. But we hope media channels can help shed light on our social contributions. We’re hopeful, too, that we can bridge the gap between us and the media through mutual cooperation for public interest.”

She hoped that through publicity the private sector would support their patient-targeted programs and initiatives.

 

 


Saudi pursuit of ‘green Kingdom’ goal gets a boost

Updated 18 November 2019

Saudi pursuit of ‘green Kingdom’ goal gets a boost

  • Agreement between agriculture ministry and Dubai's ICBA aimed at conserving natural resources
  • Kingdom's biosaline agriculture research and systems stands to benefit from ICBA's expertise

DUBAI: Agricultural development and environmental sustainability in Saudi Arabia will receive a boost in the coming years, thanks to a new agreement between the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) in Dubai and the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.

The agreement aims to enable Saudi Arabia to achieve its goal of preservation and sustainable management of its natural resources by raising the quality of biosaline agriculture research and systems.

The ministry says that the agreement will make use of the ICBA’s expertise in capacity development besides agricultural and environmental research, especially in the fields of vegetation development, combating desertification and climate change adaptation.

“It also includes training programs for Saudi technicians and farmers,” the ministry said. “In addition, it will localize, implement and develop biosaline agriculture research and production systems for both crops and forestation, which contributes to environmental and agricultural integration.”

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, the ICBA’s director general, told Arab News: “The agreement had been in the making for about two years. That was when we were approached by the Saudi government.”

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, ICBA Director General, at the center's quinoa fields in Dubai. (Supplied photo)

She said: “We put forward a proposal to demonstrate how the ICBA can help the Saudi government to implement its Green Kingdom Initiative, through which the ministry is trying to restore green coverage in the country and revive old conservation practices.”

Geographical features and climatic conditions very greatly from one part of the country to the other.

In the past, experimentation with such crops as potatoes, wheat and alfalfa proved detrimental to the Kingdom’s environment and natural resources due to faster rates of groundwater withdrawal.

“The ministry wanted to put a halt to over-abstraction of water, so they went through different policies,” Elouafi said.

“They made sure, for example, that farmers stopped producing wheat because about 2,400 liters of water is consumed to produce 1 kg of wheat. It was a huge amount,” she added.

“The new strategy is to find more appropriate crops for the farming community, which is quite large in the Kingdom.”

Saudi Arabia has been trying to grow its own food on a large scale since the 1980s. 

The objective of the Green Kingdom Initiative is to reduce the agricultural sector’s water demand by finding alternatives to thirsty crops.

The agreement will require the ICBA, over the next five years, to build for Saudi Arabia a new biosaline agriculture sector. 

As part of this shift, cultivation of a number of crops, notably quinoa, pearl millet and sorghum, will be piloted in high-salinity regions and then scaled up.

“The crops did very well in the UAE,” Elouafi said. “We’re looking at Sabkha regions, which have very high salinity and wetlands, and are on the ministry’s environmental agenda.”

Another objective is “smart” agriculture, which will involve raising water productivity, controlling irrigation water consumption and changing farming behavior.

Elouafi said that getting farmers in the Kingdom to stop cultivating wheat took some time as they had become accustomed to heavy government subsidies. In 2015, wheat production was phased out, followed by potatoes a year later and then alfalfa. 

“Farmers were provided everything to the point where they got used to a very good income and a very easy system,” she said.

“Now farmers are being asked to start producing something else, but the income won’t be the same, so it’s very important at this stage that the ministry has a plan and it’s fully understood.”

The agreement envisages preparation of proposals for ministry projects that involve plant production, drought monitoring, development of promising local crop and forestation varieties, and conservation of plant genetic resources.

“We’re also discussing capacity building because the ministry is big and has many entities. Because Saudi Arabia is a large country and has the capacity to meet some of its food requirements internally, what’s required is a better understanding of the country’s natural capabilities in terms of production of the crops it needs, like certain cereals,” Elouafi said.

“The way the authorities are going about it right now is more organized and more holistic. They’re trying to plan it properly.”

Elouafi said that having a better understanding of Saudi Arabia’s water constraints and managing the precious resource is essential.

 

Although almost the entire country is arid, there is rainfall in the north and along the mountain range to the west, especially in the far southwest, which receives monsoon rains in summer.

Sporadic rain may also occur elsewhere. Sometimes it is very heavy, causing serious flooding, including in Riyadh.

“They (the government) are very interested in drought management systems. The Kingdom has a long history of agriculture,” Elouafi said.

“It has large quantities of water in terms of rainfall, and certain regions have mountainous conditions, which are conducive to agriculture.”

Clearly, preservation of water resources is a priority for the Saudi government. But no less urgent is the task of conversion of green waste to improve soil quality, increase soil productivity and water retention, and reduce demand for irrigation.

The Kingdom is one of at least three Gulf Cooperation Council countries that are taking steps to develop a regulatory framework for the recycling of waste into compost.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman are respectively aiming to recycle 85 percent, 75 percent and 60 percent of their municipal solid waste over the next decade, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) entitled “Global Food Trends to 2030.”

Saudi Arabia and the UAE rank in the bottom quartile of the 34 countries covered by the EIU’s Food Sustainability Index, with low scores for nutrition and food loss and waste. 

The answer, according to many farmers, policymakers and food-industry experts, is a shift toward more sustainable management of each country’s natural resources.