Archive for February, 2010

Overweight and Obesity, Alarming Numbers!

Mr. Saeed Al-Bahes of Okaz newspaper reported on behalf of Dr. Ja’far Al-Qallaf, board member of the Saudi Diabetes and Endocrine Association in the Eastern Province that over 70% of the Saudi population is suffering from overweight.  Additionally, Ms. Rima Al-Mukhtar of the Arab News newspaper reported that scientific studies in Saudi showed alarming increase in childhood obesity.  Unfortunately, Ms. Al-Mukhtar did not report any of the scientific data from those studies.  I did read, however, a couple of months ago, and I apologize for not finding the source of the information, that childhood obesity was reaching 60% in Saudi.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), data from 2005 on Saudi Arabia showed: Continue reading


Public Health Topics in Saudi Mainstream Media

The major issue about public health topics in the Saudi mainstream media is the absence of dedication.  If you examine most of the popular newspapers in Saudi, such as Okaz, Al-Watan, Al-Riyadh, Al-Jazirah, Arab News, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and so forth, you would notice that they are organized into sections.  Most of them would have sections such as local news, world news, economy, sports, opinions, culture, and accidents.  What you will not see, however, is a health section.  This is also reflected on their online websites as well.

Therefore, coverage of any public health issue would be scattered between the different sections.  As a result, if one were interested in health topics, he or she would have to go through every page of the newspaper to look for articles.  Other than the fact that it is time consuming to look for health issues this way, it gives you the impression as a reader, no matter what background you have, that health issues are not of high priority to the media.  In my opinion, this is a negative aspect because the public would not be exposed properly to important public health issues.  They have to be, consciously, searching for a specific health topic to find it.  On the other hand, if there were to be a dedicated section for health, readers will automatically be drawn to all the different health topics in one place as they are flipping the pages.  Consequently, newspapers would play a much better job in spreading highly needed awareness of important health issues.

What else? Continue reading

Jinn Possession vs. Mental Health Disorder

In recent years, there has been a hype about jinn possession (المس أو اللبس), the evil eye (الحسد), and black magic (السحر) in many parts of the Muslim world.  If one listens to the symptoms for those affected by the issues above, it will be noticed that many of them are the same as those symptoms for certain mental disorders mentioned in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM-IV-TR).

So, how would this affect public health? Continue reading

Raliance on the maid, could it affect children’s mental health?

Estimates by from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2002 showed that 154 million people worldwide suffered from depression and 25 million people suffered from schizophrenia. Furthermore, WHO stated that each year more than 800,000 people die from suicide.  In addition, the WHO fact file on mental health says,

About half of mental disorders begin before the age of 14. Around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents are estimated to have mental disorders or problems, with similar types of disorders being reported across cultures.

Therefore, mental health is not a joking matter, especially when it comes to children.  According to a report by the Task Force on Early Mental Health Intervention, which can be found on the American Psychological Association’s website, increasing studies have concluded that certain mental health problems, if not detected early, could persist to adulthood.
In addition, the report highlighted the fact that causes of mental health problems in children can fall in five categories:

(a) biological risk, (b) genetic risk, (c) family relationship risks, (d) experiential risks, and (e) social environmental risks and their impact on brain development and psychosocial functioning

Under family relationships and social environmental risks, several factors have been associated with mental health in children.  Such factors could be parenting styles and practices, family interactions, attachment, and parents’ educational level.  For example, the report stated that studies have found parents with low level of education resolved to harsher disciplinary actions, discrepancy in mother-child attachment was connected to early conduct problems, and uninvolved parenting was associated with childhood depressive symptoms.

So, how does this relate to the topic?   Continue reading

Healthcare-Associated Infections

A couple of years ago I visited an ER department in one of the reputable public hospitals taking in a relative of mine with a head injury.  To my surprise, the ER physician did not even follow the ABC’s for head and neck traumas.  He began his physical exam by picking the patient’s head and turning it back and forth and twisting it side-to-side and so forth.  Luckily, my relative did not have any neck injury; otherwise, I do not even want to imagine the consequences.  Where do they get these doctors? Anyways, this is a whole different story I will leave for another post to talk about.  What I want to focus on is the issue of nosocomial infections, or healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

In the same ER, my relative was feeling nauseous and was about to vomit so I asked the nurse to give me an emesis basin.  I noticed that the basin was sitting near the sink, which I did not make much of it.  Unfortunately, my relative had to use it and I had to throw it away because it was just full.  So I called the nurse and asked her for another one since he was still feeling nauseous from the head injury.  The nurse responded by telling me that she just gave me one and asked what we did with it.  I told her I threw it away because he used it and it got dirty.  To my surprise, she questioned my action and said that they wash it and reuse it!  I told her it was DISPOSABLE!  I really cannot remember what she said after that because I was just really mad.  Truthfully, I am unaware if she meant they reused them for other patients as well or not.  However, a bad feeling ran through my veins since that basin was near the sink and it took her a while to hunt for a new one. Continue reading

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, has it come to an end?

The title summarizes the unnecessary dilemma that many parents have gone through when it came to making the decision on whether to give their children the combined measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine or not.  More than a decade ago, a study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield was published in the Lancet and suggested a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).  Unfortunately, many parents became confused and uncertain when their children’s health risks and benefits were on the table regarding the MMR vaccine.  The proper approach for those parents was to vaccinate their children against these dangerous diseases, which some of them might become deadly, because many studies have shown the safety of the vaccine despite what Dr. Wakefield suggested in his study.

Fortunately, this dilemma might be coming to an end! Continue reading

Vehicle deaths major killer in Saudi Arabia!

According to the Traffic division of the Ministry of Interior in Riyadh, the average annual economic loss related to traffic accidents in Saudi Arabia is estimated at 21 billion Saudi riyals.  That is equivalent to $5.6 billion dollars a year.  In addition, Muhammad Humaidan reported in the Arab News newspaper in an article about traffic accidents in Saudi on December 14, 2009:

The number of people killed in traffic accidents in Saudi roads has risen almost 10 percent to just over 7,000 in the past year, according to Dr. Khaled Al-Eisa, supervisor general of King Abdul Aziz Hospital in south Jeddah. This figure works out at 19.1 death every day and makes the Kingdom’s roads some of the most dangerous in the world.

Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death in males 16 to 36 years as stated in a briefing on the Country Cooperation Strategy for the World Health Organization (WHO) and Saudi Arabia.  Furthermore, according to the Mortality Fact Sheet of 2006 by WHO, road traffic accidents are the fifth leading cause of death in Saudi Arabia.

Yet, car safety is not exactly strongly enforced in Saudi.

Read more by clicking.. Continue reading