Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health visits Finland – cooperation deepens in the area of preventive health care
Finland and Saudi Arabia signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 9 August 2017. The signatories were Annika Saarikko, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, and Dr. Tawfig Alrabiah, Minister of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The MoU provides a fast track for intensified cooperation for the next five years. Finpro received Saudi Arabia's delegation on 10 August, when the government was represented by Pirkko Mattila, Minister of Social Affairs and Health.
The content of the MoU is strongly business-oriented and enables intense cooperation specifically between health sector actors and companies. The major parts of the agreement concern the early diagnosis of diseases, for example cancer screening, lifestyle diseases (cardiovascular diseases and diabetes II), preventive health measures for children and related digital solutions, and developing the expertise of health care personnel. Finnish companies that have been involved in the project from the beginning were present at the signing of the agreement.
At the event held at Finpro's headquarters, the Finnish private sector was represented by Commit, Aino Health, Nightingale Health, SE Innovations, David Health, Nokia, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and Ruissalo Foundation. During his visit, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Health also met other Finnish health sector actors such as the National Institute for Health and Welfare, the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, City of Helsinki, VideoVisit, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Terveystalo and IBM.
Groundwork for the agreement has taken 1.5 years
Building the cooperation with Saudi Arabia has required long-term work and the foundation for the agreement was already laid more than a year ago during a business delegation to Riyadh.
"We have moved forward with determination and this has brought good results. The project has developed and grown," says Meria Heikelä, Director at Finpro's health team.
"The cooperation between the different parties has proceeded well and made good progress possible. In addition to Finpro and the companies, the project has also involved the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health as well as the Ministry for Foreign Affairs."
Team Finland actor Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation is ready to support the cooperation by facilitating research into joint development projects by Finnish and Saudi public health care providers, and by acting as a possible funder for the Finnish companies that implement them. The aim is to find cooperation projects especially in the area of preventive health care.
"Saudi Arabia's representatives have been very active and want to engage in tangible cooperation within a short time frame. The work is continuing and there is a plan to visit Saudi Arabia during the autumn. We hope to open the way for many Finnish companies," says Kari Kataja, Programme Manager at Tekes.
Finpro's CEO Markus Suomi (left) received the guests at Team Finland House over lunch. The guest of honour was Pirkko Mattila, Minister of Social Affairs and Health. Saudi Arabia's Minister of Health Dr. Tawfig Alrabiah is in the middle.