RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (Nov. 15, 2010) — The Saudi Arabian National Guard Health Affairs hosted an inauguration ceremony Oct. 27 establishing the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System in National Guard Hospitals.
The ceremony launched the first of a five-phase integrated electronic disease surveillance system.
Attendees included Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Dr. Nicole Lurie, and the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, James B. Smith.
The system was fielded in Saudi Arabia over the past 18 months and is a collaboration project between the Saudi Arabian National Guard Health Affairs, the United States Centers of Disease Control, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Office of the Program Manager for the Saudi Arabian National Guard Modernization Program Health Affairs.
This is the first internationally-available version of the U.S. national healthcare safety network. The first phase will track healthcare-associated infections and future phases will track additional conditions, including: healthcare safety, notifiable diseases, chronic diseases, injuries, environmental disease, and zoonotic infections.
The next two phases will be implemented over the next two years and further optional phases in subsequent years. The system is the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia, and will be deployed in Saudi National Guard health facilities across the country.
For more than a decade, the National Guard Health Affairs has worked to fight infectious diseases and the spread of infection in Saudi Arabia. The need to rapidly collect and accumulate of data of disease outbreaks and analyze the data is what drove the need for this Disease Surveillance System, beginning the collaboration project.
In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control began communicating with National Guard Health Affairs about collaborating to bring the system to Saudi Arabia. Because of the challenges inherent in such a large undertaking, Dr .Osama Ibrahim of the Centers of Disease Control contacted the OPM-SANG Modernization Program, Health Affairs Division for assistance.
For more than 33 years, the mission of OPM-SANG is to maintain and enhance the special relationship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America. OPM-SANG does this by assisting the Saudi Arabian National Guard to achieve its vision for the future through a modernization program that includes modernizing their equipment, training and educating their Soldiers and constructing new facilities and other quality of life initiatives.