The internet is used as a medium to search for medical and health information by people all around the world, including the people in the Middle East. Unfortunately, a study executed in Saudi Arabia by post-graduate students showed that there were not many good quality websites with medical information. Thus, Saudi Arabian people were not able to find sufficiently reliable and trustworthy information on Arabic medical websites. Consequently, they would turn to foreign websites providing reliable medical information.
The deficiency of credible Arabic health information on the web called for an immediate action to promote the quality of Arabic health websites, in order to improve its trustworthiness. King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences (KSAU-HS) in collaboration with the Saudi Association for Health informatics (SAHI) initiated this important project in May 2010. Consequently, the National Guard Health Affairs (NGHA), with the support of the WHO and in collaboration with the Health On the Net Foundation (HON), having the expertise in the dissemination of trustworthy medical information, developed this King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Arabic Health Encyclopedia website (hereinafter Encyclopedia).
The project due to its importance was presented to King Abdullah of Abdulaziz, the King of Saudi Arabia who is well known due to his support to humanitarian projects. The project was approved officially and was announced during the Saudi E-health conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in May 2010. A project team was formed headed by the VP for Technology and Health Informatics at KSAU-HS University.
Mission and Audience:
The main objective of the Encyclopedia is to provide reliable medical and health information for the Arab community. The second objective is to create a culture of reliable Arabic health information on the Web by promoting international certifications. The Encyclopedia will only link to those websites which have been certified. This objective will be achieved with HON.
This Encyclopedia addresses the general population, to professionals, as well as students. The nurses and physicians can use the information provided on this site in order to improve the dialogue between themselves and their patients. Also, the information on this website makes it easier to understand what the possible consequences of treatments could be. This will help physicians and nurses to explain to patients the importance of compliance with treatments. The Encyclopedia contains information about medical topics, diet and healthy lifestyle, getting healthcare, news and events. Moreover, personalized services and interactive applications are provided for and presented in a clear and easy-to-use manner tailored to the needs of different target groups, such as men, women and children. Usability testing is being performed in order to ensure the site is responding to user needs.
Stakeholders and supporting organizations:
The development and maintenance of the Encyclopedia has been made possible by:
- The National Guard Health Affairs (NGHA) and the King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences (KSAU-HS) providing for the financial and knowledge support.
- The Saudi Association for Health Informatics (SAHI) providing e-health expertise as well as overall project management.
- World Health Organization (WHO) as well as its Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) providing knowledge support, editing and certification as well as promotion of the project across all Arabic speaking countries.
- Health On the Net Foundation (HON) providing the technical expertise and knowledge in the area of health related sites.
- The U.K. National Health Services (NHS Choices) and the Patient Education Institute (PEI), supporting the Encyclopedia with content.
- The Health Services Council verifying and approving the editorial content.
- And the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) for its support.
The KSAU-HS University falls under the umbrella of the NGHA. The NGHA is funded by the government and is part of the Saudi National Guard. The editorial content of the Encyclopedia is not influenced by external funding nor are there any conflicts of interest.