Saudi women defy ban to register for polls
General turnout remains low at the centres on third day of civic body elections
Saudi women gather outside a voter registration centre for the upcoming municipal elections in Jeddah last Saturday.
Image Credit: AFP
Riyadh: A ban on their participation, in the municipal elections in Riyadh and other cities, has evoked strong reactions from Saudi Arabia's women and women's rights activists.
Ignoring the ban, groups of women were seen standing at the gates of registration centres in the capital city — on the third day of the registration process — even as the general turnout at the centres remained low.
With some local newspapers publishing photos of these women, a strong public opinion has been generated supporting women's participation in the election process.
A group of women activists sent a memo to the authorities describing the ban on their participation as "arbitrary".
About 60 Saudi women academicians and researchers have launched a Facebook campaign under the name ‘Baladi' or ‘My Country'.
The group said there were no laws limiting participation to men.
Fawzia Al Hani, chairperson of the group, told reporters that women who had approached registration centres in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam in the past three days — to press for their right to take part in the elections — were not violating any law.
"The law reads: ‘Woman has the right to cast her vote and stand as a candidate'," she added.
Elfat Qabbani, vice-chairperson of the industrial committee at Jeddah's Chamber of Commerce, said depriving women of their right to vote comes as a shock for many Saudi women who were concerned with the public and community service.
"I couldn't understand the fears expressed by some people regarding the participation of women in these elections.
"Previously, women in Bahrain and Kuwait have taken part in similar elections and the experiments have succeeded. Women have played effective roles in municipal councils in these countries," she added.
Saudi women have taken part in two successive elections to the chambers of commerce in Jeddah and the Eastern province, Qabbani added.
She rejected the proposal that women should approach the Human Rights Society to complain or establish a virtual municipal council on the internet.
"Women are part of the fabric of this society and represent more than half the population.
"And when seeking to get their rights they will get them through negotiations.
"So we will approach officials for more discussion," Qabbani clarified.
Saudi Arabia: 82% drop in overseas medical treatment
US remains top destination for Saudis seeking treatment abroad
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Abu Dhabi: Just 488 Saudis were sent abroad for medical treatment last year, compared to 2,842 people in 2019, an 82 per cent drop, a report by the Health Ministry revealed.
The report showed patients received treatment in countries such as the USs, the UK, Germany, Singapore and China.
The US remained the top destination for medical treatments with 245 cases, followed by Germany with 142 cases and the United Kingdom with 101 cases.
Tumors topped the cases sent overseas for medical treatment with 304 cases, followed by general surgeries with 57 cases, internal medicine with 28 cases, cardiac surgeries with 26 cases, pediatric diseases with 22 cases, organ transplantation with 21 cases, then ophthalmology with 9 cases, medical rehabilitation and oral and dental medicine with 6 cases each, ear, nose and throat 5 cases, and finally gynecology and psychiatry two cases each.
The decision to treat patients abroad is based on a royal decree or a recommendation made by the High Medical Commission.
Members of the commission are representatives from various health departments such as the medical services department at the Ministry of Defense, the department of health affairs at the Ministry of National Guard, the medical services department at the Ministry of Interior, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, university hospitals and the Ministry of Health.
There are 18 medical committees spread throughout the Kingdom to deal with such cases. The Kingdom has also appointed three attachés in the US, Germany and the UK.
The Saudi health offices abroad arrange appointments for patients at overseas treatment centers and supervise their treatment.
COVID-19 infection, not vaccine, affects fertility: expert
Kingdom administers 11.5m coronavirus jabs
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Abu Dhabi: COVID-19 vaccines do not affect fertility, or the possibility of pregnancy, nor do they affect childbearing or artificial insemination. Rather, infection with the coronavirus itself does affects fertility and the ability to conceive, a senior Saudi health official said.
Assistant Minister of Health Dr. Mohammad Al Abd Al Aali was speaking on Sunday as Saudi Arabia recorded 15 deaths, the highest daily death toll due to coronavirus since November.
Al Aali also announced 825 new COVID-19 infections, and 1,028 recoveries over the past 24 hours.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s official stance is: “COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for women who are contemplating pregnancy or who are pregnant in order to minimise risks to themselves and their pregnancy.”
Cumulatively, 433,094 infections have been recorded, of which 8,145 are active cases, most of them are stable and their health conditions are reassuring, Dr Al Aali said.
He added 1,376 are critical cases receiving care in intensive care, while the total cases of recovery reached 417,787, while the death toll rose to 7,162, thus the rate of recovery from coronavirus in Saudi Arabia is 96.46%, the rate of active cases is 1.88%, and the death rate is 1.65%.
With regard to the regions with the highest recorded COVID-19 infections, they came as follows: Mecca (263), Riyadh (231), Eastern Region (98), Median (62), Asir (56), Jazan (35) ), Al Qassim (24), Tabuk (15), Najran (12), Hail (12), Al Baha (8), northern border (5), Al Jawf (4).
The spokesperson for the Ministry of Health stressed that those wishing to travel must know the procedures followed in the countries they intend to travel to, and know the state of health there.
He said 11,527,100 COVID-19 doses have been administered so far, calling on everyone to get vaccinated to reach community immunity.
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