Palestine ‘dear to the hearts of Arabs’, Saudi envoy tells UN

Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative Abdallah Al-Mouallimi speaks during the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. (SPA)
Updated 24 October 2019

Palestine ‘dear to the hearts of Arabs’, Saudi envoy tells UN

  • Al-Mouallimi said that Israeli authorities continue to violate international conventions and norms in their dealings with the Palestinians under occupation

NEW YORK: Palestine and the Golan Heights “occupy a great place in the heart of the Arab nation,” Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, said.

The Saudi government has always supported Palestinian rights under Israeli occupation, the Al-Mouallimi said.

Al-Mouallimi was commenting on a report dealing with Palestinian rights presented to the Economic and Financial Committee as part of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly.

“The international community agrees that sustainable development in the region cannot be achieved unless it is comprehensive and equitable,” he said.

Al-Mouallimi said that Israeli authorities continue to violate international conventions and norms in their dealings with the Palestinians under occupation.

“The report recorded many blatant violations by Israel, including the imposition of discriminatory policies in favor of the settlers in Palestine and the occupied Syrian Golan with regards to the exploitation of land and water resources.”

Israeli authorities imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinians, which led to the deterioration of the economic, social and humanitarian situation. Up to 95 percent of the population of the Golan Heights had been displaced and 340 Syrian villages demolished, he said.

Violations included use of excessive force against children, women and the elderly, and the killing of Palestinians by Israeli settlers.

“There is no justification for the continuation of these flagrant violations, especially in light of the international consensus on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the establishment of an independent state within the borders of June 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.

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Saudi Arabia delivers ‘early warning’ on preterm births

Updated 1 min 26 sec ago

Saudi Arabia delivers ‘early warning’ on preterm births

  • Cost of care, long-term health issues a challenge for hospitals, says expert

JEDDAH: Up to 60,000 babies are born prematurely every year in Saudi Arabia with hospitals in the Kingdom spending up to SR60,000 ($16,000) on individual treatment and specialized care, a leading pediatrician told Arab News.

Dr. Sawsan Hussein Daffa, consultant neonatologist and head of pediatrics department at the Aya Specialist Hospital, said that the Saudi Ministry of Health is working to ensure premature infants get the best medical help possible, in addition to assisting families, despite the high cost.

“Premature births can cost hospitals and insurance companies as much as SR100,000 ($26,667),” she said. “Services provided to care for premature babies can cost hospitals SR50,000-60,000 during the infant’s stay.”

Daffa was speaking after World Prematurity Day on Nov. 17.

Any child born before 36 weeks of the gestational age is called premature.

“The particularly small babies are placed in incubators for a period of time ranging from 30 to 60 days. This can cost government hospitals/insurance companies around SR60,000. Some others are placed there for longer periods and can even cost SR100,000,” she said.

However, the consultant said that up to 28 percent of premature babies die due to complications.

The Saudi Health Ministry’s website said that some preterm births are likely to have more health problems than babies born on time. “These may face long-term health problems affecting the brain, lungs, hearing or vision.”

“One of the most life-threatening problems is respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), which can cause babies to need extra oxygen and help with breathing. RDS occurs when there is not enough surfactant in the lungs. This substance, made by the lungs, keeps the airways open and helps babies breathe,” she said.

Daffa said that a baby with RDS is usually kept on a respiratory machine and receives surfactant.

“Premature babies are put in incubators until they are 1.8 to 2kg. This normally needs a month or two. Sometimes, they are placed there for three months depending on the weight of the premature child when they were born. The less they weigh, the more time they need to spend in the incubator,” she said.

Daffa said that World Prematurity Day was first celebrated 11 years ago in Italy when the families of premature infants gathered. “It has been celebrated yearly since then,” she said.

“It is an occasion during which physicians work on promoting awareness among families, especially pregnant women, to prevent preterm births. It is also a chance to spread awareness as to how to help premature babies avoid diseases.”

The consultant said that a premature baby grows differently from a full-term baby in their early years.

“These babies may start walking later than their peers. Sometimes complications can affect their brains and thus, they join school late, too,” she said. But she said that by the age of 10 their development was similar to that of other children.

The neonatologist advised parents of premature children to attend events to help their children avoid complications.

“Pregnant mothers should follow up with their doctors to detect problems early and find solutions. They should also follow a diet rich in proteins, folic acid and minerals,” she added. 

Daffa said a special vaccine given to premature babies could protect them against the respiratory syncytial virus, which normally hits premature infants from October to March.

According to a 2018 report by the World Health Organization, more than 60 percent of preterm births occur in Africa and South Asia, but preterm birth is a global problem. In lower-income countries, on average 12 percent of babies are born too early compared with 9 percent in higher-income countries, the report said.

Within countries, poorer families are at higher risk, it added.