Govt Eyes Foreign Specialists To Deal With MERS

May 22--JEDDAH -- The Ministry of Health plans to recruit 304 specialized doctors and nurses to help tackle the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak in the country.

The ministry has asked an international recruitment company to provide the medical staff to take care of MERS patients, according to a source in the ministry's department dealing with specialists.

The ministry would pay SR60,000 a month to specialized doctors, SR45,000 to residents and SR33,000 to technical nurses, the source reportedly said recently.

The source said the ministry sent a letter to the company authorizing it to start searching for staff. He said these new recruits would earn much less than specialist Saudi health practitioners.

The letter stipulated that doctors and consultants who care for children and elderly people, deal with infectious diseases, and are cardiology and emergency specialists, would get SR2,000 a day, which is SR60,000 a month.

Residents working in intensive care units with children and elderly people and emergency doctors would get SR1,500 a day, which is SR45,000 a month. Nurses dealing with cardiac perfusion, respiratory systems and emergency patients would get SR33,000 a month.

Meanwhile, Abdulghani Al-Maliki, director of the pilgrims' center at the airport, said the center has not encountered anyone suffering from an infectious disease since the beginning of the year.

He said the ministry provides the center with booklets on how to prevent MERS infection. The center has 60 health practitioners who deliver lectures to people working at the airport, including the Passport Department workers, employees of airline companies and civil aviation authorities and maintenance workers.

Al-Maliki said anyone detected with an infectious disease is quarantined and the ministry notified of the case. Some people are referred to the ministry's hospitals for treatment.

He said the ministry has certain health stipulations in place for people seeking to perform Haj and Umrah. It issues regular circulars about emerging infectious diseases in countries across the globe. Those who do not have vaccination certificates or received vaccines less than 10 days, or more than three years, from the date of their arrival in the Kingdom are given relevant medication, he said.

The health control center at Jeddah Islamic Port has also started its educational and health campaign for visitors and Umrah pilgrims. Adel Turkistani, the center's director, said the program was an extension of the Gulf Nursing Day activities.

He said the program outlines preventative measures, personal hygiene and caring for patients with diabetes and hypertension.

Copyright 2014 - Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia