(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi and British officials held a meeting under the chairmanship of Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah on Saturday to review the activities of the International Center for Vector-Borne Diseases (ICVBD).
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) Director and CEO of the Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC) professor Janet Hemingway, was leading the British team during the discussions held at the headquarters of the Health Ministry.
Undersecretary to the Ministry of Health for Public Health Ziad Al-Memish, said the meeting reviewed the performance of the center during its first year and also planned out future activities.
In April last year, the Ministry of Health, the LSTM and the IVCC launched a venture to increase the global ability to control major infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue.
A vector-borne disease is an illness caused by an infectious microbe that is transmitted by blood-sucking arthropods. The arthropods (insects or arachnids) that most commonly serve as vectors include mosquitoes, fleas, lice, biting flies and bugs, and also mites and ticks.
With 5.5 million as seed funding from the Kingdom, the three organizations established a joint research center with the mission of improving health through cutting-edge research that would result in the development and delivery of innovative ways to control, monitor and evaluate insect borne diseases that are a major threat in the Gulf region and around the world.
As part of a larger effort to build national and regional capacity in science and technology, the center was set up in Jazan, which is a breeding area for some tropical diseases.
The joint center is to establish an international standard research portfolio by utilizing the strengths in Liverpool and the IVCC consortium to develop a capacity at Ph.D., Masters and short course level to expand the cadre of qualified staff that the center can draw on.
"The center would specialize in the fight against tropical diseases in the Kingdom and the Middle East," Al-Memish said, adding that it would contribute to the reduction or elimination of various vector-borne diseases.
The center would also establish a national registry of tropical diseases.
The meeting reviewed the most significant achievements over the past year, most notably, the start of research projects related to infectious and parasitic diseases, particularly malaria and dengue fever.
It was revealed during the discussions that last year, six doctors from the Kingdom were sent for postgraduate studies to LSTM, which included three for Masters and three for Doctorates.
Al-Memish said that such cooperation would continue to enhance the capabilities of the national cadre to engage in research fields especially related to endemic diseases.
It was also decided to harness the services from experts in the field of vector-borne and tropical diseases from the LSTM, Colorado State University and the University of California, Davis, and the South African Medical Research Council.