Data in silos is not very useful, but it becomes extremely valuable when different data points are integrated and refined, said Dr. Abdullah Nasser AlJurayyan, Executive General Director, Laboratory Operations Centre, Health Support Services, Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He was speaking on the first day of Medlab Middle East Congress 2023 in Dubai on February 6.
“Data has played a crucial role in allowing us to successfully manage the pandemic in Saudi Arabia. Initially, we had a unidirectional, reactive, and manual approach to public health. But COVID-19 provided us with a push towards digitisation, and we have transformed our health sector into adopting a digital-first approach for improving quality of service and access to care.”
He further noted that if in March 2020, various entities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia operated in silos and followed non-standard communications and processes, the public health system today is thriving on the back of good use of technology.
“Today we have centralised management, defined governance, and operations. Various entities in the public health space follow standardised and documented processes, communications, and quality leads. The country has also leveraged multiple databases and applications to gain access to required data and has fully integrated services with live sample tracking and end-to-end visibility,” said AlJurayyan.
Saudi Arabia is now keen to build on the successes achieved in the health sector during the pandemic. The country is building a national database to serve ID public health programmes. It plans to leverage microbiology data to detect the prevalence and pattern of bacterial outbreaks. “We also plan to build laboratory-based surveillance, understand the local bacterial resistance pattern, and use data analysis to ensure hospital readiness and capacity.”
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health collates data on bacterial antimicrobial resistance stewardship, multi-drug resistance rate, food poisoning, dengue fever, Candida auris, Tuberculosis, meningitis and influenza from laboratories.
The mining of laboratory data from across the country has helped the Ministry of Health to refine various screening programmes and improve the quality of life of the local population.
“We have been able to introduce new models of care that focus on prevention as part of the Vision 2030 initiatives of the government. We plan to improve the quality of care which can be met by preventive health measures,” said AlJurayyan.
KSA conducts mandatory newborn screening, prenatal screening, cancer screening, and premarital screening in its public healthcare centres.