Dr. Salwa A. F. Al-Hazza, chief of the Ophthalmology Department at King Faisal Specialist Hospital, called on government agencies, NGOs and the general public to discourage first-cousin marriages in the interest of Saudi society.
Al-Hazza was speaking on the topic of innovation in health care, at the second session of the 5th Global Competitiveness Forum on Sunday in Riyadh. She said that the biomedical research has shown that the consanguineous marriage increases the risk of genetic disorders.
“This presents challenges to us,” said Al-Hazza, who was joined by four panelists in that session.
The cause of the problem has to do with the increased probability of recessive genes being present in close blood relatives that present themselves as dominant genes that cause serious health problems in children of such unions, including cystic fibrosis, retinoblastoma, juvenile muscular dystrophy and more than 1,000 other identified recessive gene disorders.
All five participants in the second session discussed various aspects of innovation in the health sector. Delmos Cosgrove, CEO and president of Cleveland Clinic Foundation, said that information technology has “played a vital role in the innovation of health care systems, especially in storing the complex health records of the patients.”
Speaking on his part, Hermann Requardt, Siemens Healthcare CEO, said the new innovations make the process of health care more efficient.
“So there is less waiting, clinical outcomes improve, patient satisfaction is higher and a healthier bottom line,” said Requardt.
He said that Siemens was dedicated to find answers to the toughest questions facing health care to help our customers deliver the highest quality of care at the lowest cost possible.
The Siemens chief said: “The innovations will serve as enablers for better future health care systems.”
While touching many other health issues, including data mining of health records and industrialization of health care, he said continued innovation is, “vital in health care and health care delivery.”
The medical profession is moving toward patient-centered medicine, with micro-targeting of treatments tailored to the individual genetic code, he added.
Advances in medical science demand that “progress continue without being suffocated by the regulatory obstacles, said another panelist, James Nakagawa, CEO of Japan’s Mobile Healthcare Inc.
Nakagawa made a presentation on how hand-held cell phones can be used for storing individual’s health information and regulate one’s daily life. This new system to be operated by mobile will help people to make their own decisions about their health needs, he said.
In all, “we must remember that the best health care decisions are made not by government and insurance companies, but by patients and their doctors,” Ziad Abdeen, director of Al-Quds Nutrition and Health Research Institute, who participated in the panel session. “
We must give priority to truly valuable health care innovations,” said Abdeen while referring to the problems faced by people suffering from hearing impairments.

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