Friday, March 31, 2023 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
 Joseph Varghese
Joseph Varghese
A journalist with a penchant for reporting events, Joseph Varghese digs deep to unearth facts. With several years of experience, including at Gulf Times, Joseph handles health, science and technology, IT and education in addition to everyday developments.
Gulf Times
Administering Covid-19 vaccine for rehabilitation patients advantageous: Qatar study

A Qatar study has found that administering Covid-19 mRNA vaccine in the inpatient population in a rehabilitation facility is advantageous for gaining full immunity for them.The study featured on highlights that delaying the vaccine until patients complete their rehabilitation is unjustifiable and recommends to initiate vaccination campaigns in inpatient facilities, while the patients are completing their rehabilitation programme.Research by Zahra Noureddine, Lama Madi, Sami Ullah and Haneen Alrawashdeh from Qatar Rehabilation Institiute (QRI) of Hamad medical Corporation and Lina Naseralallah from the School of Pharmacy, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK explored the adverse drug reaction (ADR) profile in this population and monitored the progression of these ADRs in a hospital setting.According to the study, the initiation of vaccination campaigns in inpatient rehabilitation would offer the advantage of gaining full immunity and reducing the risk of contracting Covid-19 infection and complications once discharged.It was a prospective observational study, which included adult patients admitted to the rehabilitation facility of QRI who were deemed eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine during their hospital stay. Data was collected by the investigators from June 2021 to May 2022 at 24 hours, 48 hours, and seven days post-vaccination and a piloted data collection tool utilised for this.The aim of this observational study was to explore and quantify the incidence of ADRs following the administration of the mRNA vaccine in the inpatient population at QRI. The rehabilitation facility offers support and rehabilitation to general trauma patients, stroke patients, as well as those suffering from spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. Due to their prolonged hospital stay, these inpatients were candidates to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, which would enable clinicians to closely monitor any potential reactions to the vaccine.A total of 35 patients, who met the inclusion criteria and agreed to participate in the studywere administered the vaccine. The researchers took up the unique opportunity to closely observe patients to ensure no side effects go undiagnosed. This study explored and quantified the incidence and severity of ADRs in patients who have received the Covid-19 vaccine during their stay in the rehabilitation facility.iediediediedPain at the injection site was the most commonly reported local ADR, while headache was the most frequent systemic ADR. The majority of the reported ADRs were mild to moderate in nature, with only one severe reaction detected. Although no statistical significance was noted among the variables, common patterns were identified, such as a higher occurrence of fever at 24 hours after the second dose as opposed to the first dose. Close monitoring of the included study subjects did not reveal any unanticipated ADRs or an increase in ADRs susceptibility and severity compared to the general population.The majority of patients were male (85.7%), with their age ranging between 30 and 60 years old (91.4%). Around half of the patients had a history of diabetes, hypertension, or stroke. Out of the 35 included patients, the use of blood thinning medication was confirmed in 29 (82.9%) patients. All patients received the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine.The results of this study did not show an increased risk of ADRs following vaccination with the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine in the inpatient population. The findings from this study closely aligned with the published literature on outpatients, providing support for inpatient vaccination campaigns.

Prof Abdul-Badi Abou-Samra
STEPwise Survey to help develop National Diabetes Strategy

The nationwide STEPwise Survey taking place in Qatar later this year will help in developing several specific plans in the National Diabetes Strategy, a senior official of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) said.“We are keen on the statistics from this survey as every other estimate of diabetes prevalence is biased or inaccurate," explained Prof Abdul-Badi Abou-Samra, deputy chief medical officer and director of Qatar Metabolic Institute, HMC."So this will provide us with inputs and statistics to calculate the true incidents. It will help us to develop a number of specific plans in the National Diabetes Strategy of which I am the co-chair,” he stated while speaking on the sidelines of the recent Middle East Forum on Patient safety 2023.“The STEPwise survey is very important for us. We had the last STEPwise survey in 2012 and if we have one in 2023, it is happening after 11 years. The new survey will be epidemiologically representative of the Qatar population and provide the latest figures about the prevalence of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases. It will provide very important insights about the degree of prevalence of diabetes in the country,” said, Prof Abou Samra.The official noted that the survey will be launched by the Ministry of Public Health this year in collaboration with the Planning and Statistics Authority.“Measures taken to reverse diabetes among people will be reflected in the survey. We have taken several measures to combat diabetes in the country and we hope they help reduce the rise of diabetes incidents in the country,” added, Prof Abou Samra.The new STEPwise survey aims to cover 8,000 Qatari and non-Qatari families. It is the second cycle of STEPwise surveys and a follow up of the 2012 survey, conducted in collaboration with the World Health organisation. It aims to provide a database on chronic non-communicable diseases and risk factors of non-communicable diseases in Qatar.

Dr Riadh Fadhil.
Half a million register as organ donors in Qatar

In a unique feat, half a million of Qatar’s adult population has volunteered to donate their organs with Qatar Organ Donation Centre, making it a quarter of the adult population of the country, disclosed a top official recently.“In 2022, we reached the half million mark of organ donors with over 500,000, to be exact 500,105 which is very unique. Achieving half a million donors is very unique because this is about 25% of the adult population in Qatar. No country in the world has achieved such a feat of a quarter of the adult population registering as organ donors,” said Dr Riadh Fadhil, director of the Qatar Organ Donation Centre under Hamad Medical Corporation. Dr Fadhil was speaking to the media recently on the sidelines of the Middle East Forum on patient healthcare and safety. He also disclosed that the first heart transplant in the country will take place this year.Dr Fadhil noted that those who register for donating their organs are fully briefed on the whole process. “This is a legally abiding registration and it is not done online but face to face. We go to the people in the shopping malls or other places and talk to them, teach them what is organ donation and they register if they wish,” he continued. According to the official, the mission of the Organ Donation Centre- started in 2012- as well as the Organ Donation Programme is to have a healthy number of deceased as well as living donors among the Qatari community. “And every year the number of the deceased donors and living donors is increasing as a result of the new programmes and campaigns that we launch. The number of transplants is also increasing. We are now transplanting kidneys – which represents the major part of the transplant- liver and the lungs. The number of donations this year exceeded all the previous years, since the start of the programme,” he explained. The director of the centre stated that every year, the deceased and living donors are honoured. “This year we have recognised 83 living donors and 35 deceased donors with the medal of honour. This is the highest number from the start of the programme,” he highlighted. Dr Fadhil said the number of donors dropped down during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic. “After that there was a difference. So this is the best recognition event we had so far this year and at the same time, we are working on developing our donor registry with those people who register as potential organ donors after death. We will be launching our next campaign for organ donation during Ramadan,” he pointed out. Dr Fadhil commented that as a result of the increase in the deceased donor and living donor numbers, the centre was able to achieve the best year in organ transplantation. “We have had 65 organ transplants, mainly over 50 kidney transplants, the rest liver and lungs. This year we will introduce the heart transplant. We are working actively to have all the logistics in place with all the staff and training. We are getting set to do it and it will happen very soon,” added, the official.

HMC hospitals at the Medical City.
Study forecasts 5.67% annual increase in dialysis patients

A Qatar-based research shows that the number of patients requiring dialysis might go up at an average of 5.67% between 2022 and 2030.“The number of dialysis patients in Qatar is anticipated to increase from 1,037 in 2022, to1,245 in 2025 and to 1,611 in 2030,” noted the study, ‘Time-Series Forecasting of Haemodialysis Population in the State of Qatar by 2030’ published in Qatar Medical Journal and featured on researchers part of the study are physicians from Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology and the Department of Quality and Patient Safety. They are Dr Abdullah Hamad, Dr Anas Mefleh al-Halabi, Dr Hafedh Ghazouani, Dr Elmukhtar M Habas, Dr Abdelsalam Mohamed Borham, Dr Sahar Mohamed Ismail, Dr Hassan Ali al-Malki and Dr Mohamad M Alkadi.The study was taken up as there are only few statistics on dialysis-dependent individuals with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) in the country. It aims to provide information that can aid in better understanding the dialysis development model, helping in higher-level services in future planning and provide data for creating preventive efforts. Therefore, the study proposes a time-series with a definitive endogenous model to predict ESKD patients requiring dialysis.The researchers used four mathematical equations namely, linear, exponential, logarithmic decimal, and polynomial regression, to make predictions using historical data from 2012 to 2021. These equations were evaluated based on time-series analysis, and their prediction performance was assessed using the mean absolute percentage error, coefficient of determination, and mean absolute deviation. Because it remained largely steady for the population at risk of ESKD in this investigation, the researchers did not consider the population growth factor to be changeable.“Our research offers straightforward and precise mathematical models for predicting the number of patients in Qatar who will require dialysis in the future. We discovered that the polynomial technique outperformed other methods. Future planning for the need for dialysis services can benefit from this forecasting,” the researchers have suggested.The polynomial method has provided the best match for the prevalence dialysis data, according to numerical findings with good accuracy and variability. The polynomial algorithm is the simplest and best-calculated projection model, according to the results. Thus the researchers have reached the conclusion that the number of dialysis patients in Qatar is anticipated to increase from 1037 in 2022 to 1245 in 2025, and 1611 in 2030, with a 5.67% average yearly percentage change between 2022 and 2030.The number of patients in Qatar with ESKD requiring haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis has gone up over the last two decades by more than four and eight times, respectively. This growth coincides in part with a roughly four-fold increase in Qatar's population in the period.Other variables include decreased mortality in the ESKD population and increased occurrence of risk factors for ESKD. In Qatar, only several government healthcare facilities run by the HMC have ever offered dialysis services. There were 250 peritoneal dialysis patients (22%) and 900 haemodialysis patients (78%), using more than 80% of the available haemodialysis stations across the country as of January 1, 2022.

HE Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari speaking at the event. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Minister stresses need to achieve goal of universal health coverage

Praising the resilience of the country’s healthcare system, HE the Minister of Public Health Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari highlighted yesterday the need to continue working to achieve the goal of universal health coverage.HE Dr al-Kuwari was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Middle East Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare 2023 at Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel. Jointly organised by Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), more than 3,000 healthcare professionals are taking part in this year’s forum in person and virtually. It is the biggest event of its kind in the region dedicated to healthcare quality and safety. HE Dr al-Kuwari said: “To continue facing the challenges, both known and unexpected, we must be more resilient. I look forward to an engaging discussion that will consolidate our understanding and help us progress on our previous successes and achieve our collective goal of universal health coverage.” “As with many aspects of life, we had to change the way we do things throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and that meant delivering this important forum virtually. But Covid-19 did not stop us; we just had to adapt and do things differently. This is a wonderful example of Healthcare Resilience in Extraordinary Times; the perfect theme for this year’s forum,” she added. HE the Minister continued, “In Qatar, we are fortunate to be guided by the wise leadership of His Highness the Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who has emphasised resilience in all our country’s plans and policies. This has meant that as a country we were well positioned to successfully face challenges such as Covid-19. And our National Vision 2030 has driven us to seek to excel in the delivery of healthcare to all those living in Qatar so that we can have a healthy thriving population.”She commended the healthcare sector’s response to Covid-19, explaining that by working together across the healthcare system, in collaboration with the community, healthcare teams have been central to Qatar having one of the lowest Covid-19 mortality rates and one of the highest Covid-19 vaccination rates in the world. She also acknowledged and appreciated the courageous efforts and leadership of the healthcare professionals during the pandemic.“Yet, despite these incredible achievements, we are committed to constantly moving forward,” she said. “Throughout 2023, we will focus our efforts on implementing the new National Insurance Programme; providing fast access to care for patients; and ensuring Qatar’s healthcare system continues to be a regional leader for quality and safety in healthcare, delivering services on a par with the world’s best health systems.” HE Dr al-Kuwari also highlighted the healthcare sector’s contribution to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: “After 12 years of planning and preparation under the vision and direction of Qatar’s leaders, the nation hosted a truly incredible tournament that was widely acclaimed as the greatest ever FIFA World Cup. Many sectors from across Qatar played an important role in the tournament’s success and as a healthcare system we have been at the forefront of these efforts,” she noted. “The planning, preparation and delivery of our comprehensive FIFA World Cup strategy required a truly incredible effort from healthcare teams across the sector and I am deeply grateful to everyone who played their part in this remarkable accomplishment,” she added.HE the Minister also highlighted several of the health sector’s key achievements since 2020, which include the opening of Aisha Bint Hamad Al Attiyah Hospital; opening of six new state-of-the-art health and wellness centres; achieving the World Health Organisation ‘Healthy City’ status for all eight municipalities; designation for HMC’s Department of Geriatrics and Long-Term Care as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Healthy Ageing and Dementia; implementing a range of telemedicine and virtual services across the public health sector; gaining Planetree International Certification for Excellence in Person-Centred Care at five HMC facilities; having four HMC hospitals and Sidra Medicine ranked among the world’s top 250 academic medical centres among others.Held under the theme ‘Healthcare Resilience in Extraordinary Times’ the opening session of the forum also heard from Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, deputy chief medical officer and director of the Department of Medical Education at HMC, and Dr Kedar Mate, president and CEO, IHI. There was also a session by Dr Don Berwick, president emeritus and senior fellow, IHI.

HE Dr Mohamed bin Abdulaziz bin Salih al-Khulaifi addressing the Global Security Forum 2023 . PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
'Qatar a reliable international mediator'

Recollecting the numerous examples of Qatar’ successful mediation efforts over several years, HE the Assistant Foreign Minister for Regional Affairs Dr Mohamed bin Abdulaziz bin Salih al-Khulaifi, reiterated on Tuesday that Qatar is a reliable, impartial and successful international mediator.“My country has been recognised globally for its role as an international mediator in a varieties of disputes between states, with high cooperation from regional and international partners. Qatar itself has benefited from the mediation it has participated in,” he explained at the Global Security Forum 2023 held under the theme 'Reshaping the Global Order: Conflicts, Crises and Cooperation.'Qatar’s foreign policy relies on strong bilateral and multilateral alliances and finding solutions to complex issues through dialogue and mediation, Dr al-Khulaifi noted.“Qatar respects and honours all international treaties and conventions in which it is a party. Nowadays mediation is explicitly referred as a means of dispute resolution leading to bilateral and multilateral treaties. Mediation is the second most used diplomatic way of peaceful means of dispute resolution with the first one being the direct negotiations between the parties,” he explained.Dr al- Khulaifi pointed out that Qatar's long experience in the field of mediation helped the country gain the confidence and recognition from the international community after its successes in resolving many conflicts.He highlighted Qatar's contribution to the conclusion of a truce in Yemen 2008-2010, in addition to the country's hosting of the Lebanese national dialogue, and its assistance to the governments of Djibouti and Eritrea to conclude a peace agreement to settle the border dispute between them and secure the release of prisoners.“Qatar has been successful in the Darfur file through the signing of the Doha Document for peace in the region. Our mediation contributed to facilitating the peace agreement between the transitional government in Sudan and the armed movements signed in South Sudan. Another major mediation effort was the hosting of the talks between the United States and the Taliban that concluded with the signing of the peace agreement by the two parties,” continued, the minister.The minister went on to highlight other mediation efforts of the country such as the negotiations between the Chadian parties, which culminated in the signing of the Doha Peace Agreement by the Chadian parties. He pointed out that the foreign policy of Qatar relies on strong bilateral and multilateral alliances, and finding solutions to disputes through dialogue and mediation while respecting the sovereign rights of all countries.The minister called upon the international community to strengthen strong regulatory frameworks that favour mediation in international relations and work to address regional conflicts and disputes with wisdom and patience, with the aim of advancing the sustainability of international peace and security.“A trusted and neutral mediator can play a very important role by bringing the parties together, by listening to them carefully and proposing peaceful settlement to the conflicts. Sustainability of the agreement is also important. One of the crucial lessons that Qatar has learned during these times is the importance of sustaining the agreement,” added Dr al-Khulaifi.

US ambassador Timmy Davis in conversation with Ali Velshi yesterday at the Global Security Forum 2023. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar a remarkable place with great stability, modernity, culture: US envoy

Qatar is a spectacular country with great opportunities and stability, the US ambassador Timmy Davis said yesterday at the Global Security Forum 2023 in a fireside chat.“Qatar is a remarkable spot in the world with great stability, modernity and culture. It aims to be the destination for tourism and sports and it is an Arabic speaking country where everyone also speaks English,” the envoy told Canadian television journalist Ali Velshi, host of 'Velshi' and a chief correspondent at MSNBC.The Global Security Forum 2023, under the slogan "Reshaping the features of the global system: conflicts, crises and co-operation," focuses on the international approach to managing conflicts, crises and co-operation.“I would suggest the American people that this (Qatar) is a place where all of them can come and enjoy themselves for tourism. American businesses need to understand this is a place that you can come, create relationships, co-operation and opportunities,” added the ambassador.“I can think of 20 countries in the world that Americans might want to visit. They could visit Qatar instead and get what they were getting in those 20 countries," he highlighted.Praising the advanced level of relations between the two friendly countries, Davis said: “Qatar has become a force for good, not only at the regional level, but at the international level, and we have a strategic partnership with it and well-established economic and security relations."Davis said that the US highly appreciates what Qatar is doing at the regional and international levels, and the humanitarian aid it provides around the world. He also cited the example of Qatar’s humanitarian aid of $100mn to the US for the Katrina hurricane victims.“This is what we seek to confirm over and over again in the United States, so that everyone realises the importance of this relationship for us," he said.The US envoy also praised the remarkable development witnessed in Qatar at various levels and its stability, security and openness to the world. He highlighted the stable and distinctive environment it provides for companies, businesses and other areas as well.Davis also had words of praise for Qatar’s superb organisation of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, highlighting that it was the best tournament so far. He also acknowledged the reforms that Qatar had initiated to regulate the labour market and protect the rights of workers.The Global Security Forum 2023 that includes discussions on topics such as the global energy crisis, approaches to promoting sustainable economies, and competition of powers, will conclude today.

Participants at the  at the discussion. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
GSF panel highlights implications of Ukraine War

A panel discussion at the Global Security Forum( GSF) 2023 that got underway at Sheraton Doha yesterday explored the implications arising out of the Ukrain War.Titled ‘War in Ukraine: Impacts & Implications’ the discussion provided insights into what is currently happening at the warfront. The session reflected on the current state and future prospects of the ongoing war in Ukraine. In addition to the traditional military dimensions of the conflict, participants also discussed the role and impact of various state and non-state actors and the implications for global security.The participants at the session were: Ambassador Nathan Sales, senior fellow, the Soufan Centre; Dr Bilyana Lilly, chair of the Resilience Track, Warsaw Security Forum and Dr Kacper Rekawek, postdoctoral fellow, University of Oslo Centre for Research on Extremism. The session was moderated by Jason Blazakis, senior research fellow at the Soufan Centre.Ambassador Sales pointed that it is critical to defend Ukraine otherwise it could lead to many other areas. He said: “What happens in Ukraine will not stop there. But it is also critical to remind people why and how this war is critical to defending their own values and interests.”“ It is a war waged on the cyber world so fiercely. Russia has been targeting the supporters of Ukraine with cyber-attacks and phishing. Russia has increased its social media presence over the last one year through several social media handles in a number of languages,” explained, Dr Lilly."Phishing campaigns against NATO members supporting Ukraine have increased by 300%, which shows the vast activity that has been happening in cyberspace,” she added.According to Rekawek, there’s a huge community of humanitarians who provide all sorts of staff for Ukrainian frontline. He noted that the war if prolonged, could be far more problematic.“The longer the war goes on in Ukraine, the greater the risk of certain movements within Russia, where far-right groups dissatisfied with progress on the frontlines are likely to foment more violence and instability,” he added.

Dr Gonzalo Castro de la Mata.
Education City studies help make it more sustainable: Earthna official

Several tests have been conducted as part of a study at Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Education City to continue making the place more sustainable and reduce carbon reduction, which later can be applied at the national level, revealed a top official."The advantage of Education City is that it is large place where we can conduct many experiments and the results can be applied in Qatar as a whole," Dr Gonzalo Castro de la Mata, executive director of Earthna Centre, a QF initiative, told the media recently."We have measured the carbon footprint in Education City. Now we know where the carbon is emitted and how to develop a strategy to lower the carbon emissions. We have the methodology and then we have the strategies to reduce the carbon emission.“We have identified the sources of carbon emission and what can be done about it. One of the areas of focus is efficiency of the buildings. So the buildings have to be well insulated. Another important area is lights that automatically go off. So installing those types of sensors is important and many of the buildings have that and we have to install them at places where such facility is not done already.“Another area is water. When you desalinate water, a lot of carbon dioxide is emitted because of the use of energy. Therefore, you need to conserve water to reduce emissions. Some people don’t think about water as a source of emissions. But in a country where water comes from desalination primarily, then of course you should consider it as source of emission,” continued the official."We have a strategy to continue making Education City more sustainable including the livability of the city, allowing people to walk with shade and introducing solar panels to provide shade and to generate electricity. Landscaping is one of the areas we are going to move forward and of course some green rooftops too. Then we are planning to have some pilots and after that we can apply it to Doha as a whole,” added Dr Castro de la Mata.

Gulf Times
Qatar study advocates family-centred paediatric psychosocial care

A Qatar-based study has advocated a family-centred care approach to support hospitalised children, their families, and the healthcare provision team in the delivery of paediatric psychosocial care.The study published on suggests for improvements to be made in four main arenas concerning Qatar’s paediatric psychosocial care provision using a family-centred perspective.The article by Heba al-Fara from the Doha International Family Institute notes the four main areas as: education and training; healthcare environment; financial support and advocacy and future research and audits.“If improvements are made to these four main areas, Qatar’s paediatric psychosocial care programme would more effectively cater to evidence-based child and family-friendly approaches,” says the study.Considering the lack of data available on paediatric psychosocial care in Qatar as the main limitation, the author claims the study as a stepping stone toward future research on the topic.According to the study, life-threatening child sicknesses and related admission to hospitals are serious family dilemmas that may have undesired consequences for all family members. It points that the basic objective of paediatric psychosocial welfare is to advocate for the well-being of families and their members, to strengthen their adaptive skills in difficult medical situations, and to better their general quality of life.“Familial partings, shifting daily schedules, necessary frightening medical operations, alarming concerns about a minor’s future well-being, and overall familial welfare are possible sources of tension. As such, paediatric psychosocial care approaches are used more and more to advocate for family and child strength and durability during health scenarios and to improve the overall well-being of children impacted by fatal medical situations,” the article noted.As per the article, if better education and training services are provided to families, child patients, and their families’ experiences in the hospital would be improved, bettering child patients’ recovery and their families’ resilience which would better align the practitioner–patient–family connections.Next if the physical characteristics of the hospital setting were more visibly catered to children using colours and ease of access, as well as providing the necessary resources to provide effective care, the recovery of child patients and their family comfort levels would be improved.Furthermore, the study argues that if sufficient financial resources were included in hospital budgets for paediatric psychosocial care services to fill the gaps in healthcare services, such as translation services, child patients and their families would have ease of communication with hospital staff and better access to information.Lastly, if further research is provided on the experiences of child patients, their families, and hospital staff, miscommunication and ineffective service delivery would be mitigated which would offer an opportunity to build their connections within the highly stressful environment of paediatric psychosocial care.The article has also outlined the need for a family-focused care lens on pediatric psychosocial support in Qatar. Using secondary sources, this article advocates a family-centered care approach to support hospitalised children, their families, and the healthcare provision team in the delivery of paediatric psychosocial care.The article suggests that if the policy recommendations are applied properly, these would help Qatar’s paediatric psychosocial care programme to more effectively cater to evidence-based child and family-friendly approaches.

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Zambia's President Hakainde Hichilema, Sierra Leone President Dr Julius Maada and other dignitaries at the Earthna Summit 2023. PICTURE: AR Al-Baker.
First Earthna Summit seeks climate keys

Qatar Foundation (QF) Chairperson Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser attended on Wednesday the opening of the inaugural Earthna Summit 2023 which focuses on hot and arid environments and blending today’s expertise with indigenous knowledge to identify climate solutions.Speakers at the summit, hosted by QF’s Earthna Centre for a Sustainable Future, included world renowned primatologist and anthropologist Dr Jane Goodall, QF Vice Chairperson and CEO HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, HE the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Sheikh Dr Faleh bin Nasser bin Ahmed bin Ali al-Thani, Zambia's President Hakainde Hichilema, Sierra Leone President Dr Julius Maada, and Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland.Dr Goodall closed the first day of the summit with a discussion about biodiversity, ecosystems and values. The two-day summit is taking place at Msheireb Downtown Doha.Addressing the opening ceremony, HE Sheikha Hind, said: “At this inaugural Earthna Summit, we have deliberately placed a significant emphasis on exploring indigenous practices, in search of the fountains of accumulated wisdom tucked away in ordinary places. The purpose of seeking out indigenous wisdom is for us to discern and choose wisely that which resonates in our local environment, so that we may adopt simple whole solutions instead of complicating things. And so that, when we adopt new policies, we can attack the root causes of our modern issues, instead of getting lost in the branches.”HE Sheikh Dr Faleh noted that the Earthna Summit 2023 will provide an opportunity to build a community of environmental stakeholders that will contribute to shaping the future of sustainability in hot and dry regions.“The Summit provides us with a platform to highlight hot and dry countries that are often absent from global discussions related to climate change. It will also focus on the unique challenges faced by these countries with difficult weather conditions. And these are the challenges that Qatar is committed to addressing, and sharing the best solutions and practices on how to overcome them with neighbouring countries and other countries of the world,” explained the minister.The theme of the summit, 'Building New Sustainability Pathways for Hot and Arid Environments', brings together sustainability experts and policymakers including indigenous peoples to learn from each other and exchange knowledge. The event aims to renew focus on examining ancestral solutions to climate challenges and how these may support current plans for advancing sustainability.The Earthna Summit aims to make hot and arid environments – such as Qatar’s – more prominent in the global conversation by highlighting the critical adaptation needs of countries with such climates, and exploring options as the world moves towards energy transition.Earthna is hosting a variety of sessions, workshops and panel discussions based on themes of food and security adaptation; climate change and energy transition; resilient cities; and biodiversity.Throughout the summit, members of the public can visit the ‘Earthna Village’ at Barahat Msheireb, a sustainability-focused exhibition showcasing indigenous and sustainable practices. The agora section of the Earthna Village is hosting practitioners for short, interactive discussions with the audience about their exhibits.

Dr Jane Goodall on the sidelines of the Earthna Summit 2023 on Wednesday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Eminent primatologist praises Qatar’s conservation efforts

Well known British primatologist and anthropologist, Dr Jane Goodall has commended Qatar’s conservation efforts and hopes that her initiative, 'Roots & Shoots' global youth programme will take off in Qatar.“Everywhere I go, I try to introduce the Roots & Shoots programme. That's why it's growing around the world. And I certainly hope, after my visit here, that the programme will take off in Qatar,” said, Dr Goodall, who is in town for the ongoing Earthna Summit 2023.“While I’ve been in Qatar, I went to see the sanctuary of the Oryx conservation programme. And there's no question that, in Qatar and the Gulf states, there have been major conservation efforts for the different animals in the region, and areas set aside for them,” Dr Goodall highlighted.The renowned primatologist is considered the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees, after 60 years studying the social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees.“There is a new awareness forming of the fact that driving motor vehicles across the desert is tremendously damaging to the very delicate desert ecosystem. I believe that, as in other parts of the world, the Gulf states are beginning to treasure and preserve their environment,” she continued.Dr Goodall noted that in different countries, sustainability can be introduced into the school curriculum in different ways, because the challenges each country faces are different. “In some schools where you find wealthy pupils, they can impose some standards about sustainability, which wouldn't be possible if you're in a very poor school, where the children come from sometimes broken or abusive homes. For them, the concept of sustainability will definitely be different, and different standards will have to apply,” she explained.The renowned primatologist feels that it is important for everybody to realise that all the problems faced today are interconnected. “The more disciplines we bring together, the more we will think about the effect of one solution on a different part of the issue, which will bring us better results. Too often, you solve one problem, but if you're not thinking of the whole picture, you're not realising you've created a problem in another area. So we need different disciplines to work together,” she pointed out.She also highlighted that one of the main goals of the Roots & Shoots programme is to reconnect people with the natural world, and specifically children to provide a real connection with the natural world.“Introducing organic gardening into schools to grow organic food, planting butterfly gardens, taking children out so that they can explore, are all important in igniting children’s curiosity towards nature. Young children absolutely love exploring earth, they love watching plants grow. And if you get them really young, they will always have that desire to be spending time out in the natural world,” added the legend.

Speakers at the session. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Indigenous knowledge to be used to overcome food security challenges

Speakers at a panel discussion during the inaugural Earthna Summit on Wednesday highlighted the importance of traditional knowledge and indigenous practices to be incorporated in modern day practices and the need for them to be shared among different countries.Addressing a session titled ‘Global Challenges to Food Security: Indigenous Knowledge Systems and their Applications’, they noted that food security is rather a global issue and it needs to be addressed with serious urgency.The speakers also noted that countries need to balance advancements in technology with respect for “old knowledge” to tackle food security challenges that risk escalating global instability.President of Zambia Hakainde Hichilema, President of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Bio, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and UPL global CEO Jai Shroff were the members of the panel moderated by Dr Zeinab Bashir Elbakri, former vice president and international development expert, African Development Bank.Hichilema told delegates that the world cannot afford to “discount” traditional agricultural methods, and that the knowledge of the past should be woven into the framing of modern policies.“Our people knew how to manage land and read the weather, whether it would be a flood year or a drought was coming, which crops would survive in semi-arid areas,” he said. “In our modern quest to produce more food and tackle the risks of climate change, we need to make space for this knowledge, and then we can adapt that history and heritage and apply our modern technology and volumes of production.”“Food security is national security, it is regional, continental, and global security, and without it we are courting instability the world does not need,” he highlighted.Dr Maada highlighted that many of the indigenous methods of agriculture retain value. “But we have forgotten or neglected this, or used new technologies which can destroy such methods.Technology can help us leapfrog to a situation where we produce huge sums of agricultural products without polluting our environment, but we also need to preserve indigenous methods,” he explained.According to Scotland, one example of indigenous knowledge being revived to address today’s food security challenges is the ancient wells in Sri Lanka that irrigate land in times of drought.“In our modern arrogance, we had perhaps disregarded what indigenous people knew for many years,” she said. “This is a real moment for us to show respect for our old knowledge as well as respect for the new. Old knowledge can inform how we develop technologically, and allow us to take advantage of our history and future in a way that melds better for everyone.”Meanwhile, Shroff, stressed the importance of “farmer resilience”, saying: “There is no food security without resilient farmers – there is no way they will be able to feed the world if they cannot feed their families.”At the Earthna Summit, government representatives, QF’s Earthna Centre for a Sustainable Future, and other partners confirmed a renewed commitment to strengthening food production, storage, and supply chains across the developing world. They announced plans to develop a dedicated food security programme to improve food-system resilience between producing and importing countries in Africa, India, and Latin America.Summing up the major topics of discussion, Elbakri highlighted there is an urgency that has to be maintained. "We should understand that food security is not at national level but a global level issue that needs to be taken care of for global security. We can’t afford to mess it up.“The traditional values and indigenous practices which are really helpful have to be shared among different countries. They should also be digitalised so that it can be accessed at all levels across the globe. We must also make a distinction about what works and what does not and there should be international cooperation in these aspects,” she added.

Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Heidi Schroderus Fox and Julia Spies at the press conference Monday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
ITC launches new trade report aiming to improve food security in LDCs

International Trade Centre (ITC) launched the LDC Trade Report 2023: Improving Food Security Monday during the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5).At a press conference, ITC officials said that trade can increase the availability and affordability of food in least developed countries where more than 60% of people deal with food insecurity – twice as much as in developing countries, and six times as much as in developed countries.In the context of increasing global instabilities, the new report by ITC and UNOHRLLS, the lead United Nations agency supporting least developed countries highlights trade policy options to help them work towards sustainable, trade-led development, in the face of crises.ITC executive director Pamela Coke-Hamilton explained that least developed countries continue to depend on commodity exports almost twice as much as other developing countries, and they continue to be more vulnerable to global instabilities."We as the global community have to do more, and we have to do better. This joint report highlights concrete policy actions we can take to make a difference for them,” she said.Heidi Schroderus Fox, executive secretary LDC5 conference and Julia Spies from ITC were present at the event. The report highlights two main groups of trade policies to help least developed countries strengthen their resilience: improving market access for food imports and tapping into alternative sources of food supplies.The reports suggests that trade, if well-managed, can be a tool to tackle the root causes of obstacles holding least developed countries back. Investing in building the capacity of small businesses – which make up 95% of jobs in LDCs to sell in regional and international markets that can drive trade-led development.According to the report, the least developed countries currently impose a 17% tariff on food imports, while developing and developed countries levy 15% and 8%, respectively. ITC surveys in 17 least developed countries from 2010-2022 show that regulatory and procedural obstacles can complicate food imports.Another aspect is that LDC food importers face challenges connected to customs valuations, customs surcharges and merchandise handling or storing fees. Tackling these challenges will reduce delays and costs and help channel essential items quickly to where they are most needed.Another aspect of the study is tapping into new resources of food supply. “While on average LDCs import food from 77 distinct suppliers, developing and developed countries source their food from 117 and 163 partners. For certain products, such as rice or vegetable oils, almost four-fifths of total LDC imports come from only one or two suppliers,” the report said.According to the report, policies aimed at improving the links between trade and food security would look at factors such as diversification of suppliers and strengthening of regional agri-food value chains to increase resilience in light of global instabilities.The report has suggested about strengthening LDCs’ trade through global partnerships. It continues that unfavourable import procedures, dependence on few suppliers, and the lack of regional value chains are all part of a wider problem as least developed countries only account for about 1% of global trade, despite the target to double their share of global exports by 2020.

Rabab Fatima speaking at the event. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
DPoA targets 15 more LDCs to meet graduation criteria: UN official

The Doha Programme of Action (DPoA) has set a new target to enable additional 15 least developed countries to meet the graduation criteria by the end of this decade, a senior official noted Sunday.Speaking at a session of the fifth UN Summit of the Least Developed Countries (LDC5), Rabab Fatima, high representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States and the secretary-general of LDC5, said the UN formally recognised the LDCs in 1970 and a list was approved the next year.“This marked the beginning of the partnership between the LDCs and the developed partners. The conference happening in every decade has a common objective to put global attention on the most vulnerable countries. At the outset, there were only 25 LDCs and it peaked to 52 in 1991,” said Fatima.The official stressed that the delegates have gathered in Doha with the renewed determination to provide every person in every LDC a fair chance to succeed in life.“The Istanbul Programme of Action for the decade 2011-2022 set an ambitious target to graduate half of the LDCs by 2020. Although the target was not reached, remarkable progress was made. Four LDCs graduated in the time period and 15 more are in the pipeline for graduation. DPoA has set a new target to enable additional 15 countries to meet the graduation criteria by the end of this decade,” the official explained.She pointed out that progress took place in some other areas, too. “ In 1980, the average GDP growth in the LDCs was 3.1%, which reached 7.4% in 2005. However, it fell to 1.9% in 2021 due to the impact of Covid-19. From $284 in 1980, the GDP per capita of the LDCs reached $1,150 in 2021 and the total share of exports increased from 0.52% in 1990 to 1% now,” Fatima said.“Each one of these data represents real lives and livelihoods, hopes, dreams and opportunities. Although progress was made, it remains uneven within the group. Many LDCs, especially those in Africa, continue to face systemic challenges. And the inequalities between the developed world and the LDCs have further widened. The technological innovations and unfavourable global economic conditions have made the situation worse,” she lamented.According to Fatima, over 69% of the worldwide deaths caused by climate-induced disasters occurred in the LDCs. “And yet, the LDCs account for only 1.1% of the global emissions. Historically, the rules of development were stacked unfairly against the LDCs. Covid-19, conflicts in different part of the world and the cascading food impact and financial crisis are all affecting the LDCs most disproportionately."These overlapping crises have severally impacted the LDCs and delayed their journey towards achieving the 2030 agenda,” she noted.“Despite all the challenges, we arrive in Doha with the hope that solidarity will have its stay. Addressing the challenges of the LDCs is not a moral imperative but an economic and political one, too. We have come to the Doha conference with the DPoA already adopted in 2022 and in implementation for over a year. If we can bring to fruition the commitments, targets and the deliverables of the DPoA, we can put the LDCs to transformative journey towards rapid economic growth and sustainable development,” Fatima added.

Officials speak about the inaugural Earthna summit Sunday. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
Earthna summit to raise new sustainability pathways

The inaugural Earthna summit aims to raise global challenges in sustainability and provide directions in meeting these challenges and help build new sustainability pathways for countries with similar climate to Qatar.The Earthna Summit organised by the Earthna Centre of Qatar Foundation (QF) in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, is under the theme, ‘Building New Sustainability Pathways for Hot and Arid Environments.’The summit– aiming to be carbon-neutral – takes place from March 8–9 at Msheireb Downtown Doha. The details of the summit were disclosed Sunday at a press conference by Dr Gonzalo Castro de la Mata, executive director of Earthna; Saad al-Hitmi, acting director of the Climate Change Department at the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and Habes Howail, external relations manager, CEO Office, QF.Al-Hitmi said:“The summit will provide a unique opportunity for the citizens and residents of Qatar to interact and promote sustainable practices and encourage their adoption. It will also focus on the unique challenges facing countries with difficult climatic conditions that are similar to the climate of Qatar. Hence, we will discuss these issues with such countries and work collectively to find solutions to the common challenges.”“I affirm the commitment of Qatar in addressing these challenges and continuing our search for the best ways to solve them. I like to highlight the distinguished record enjoyed by Qatar in the field of climate action, both at the local and global levels,” he added.The summit will see climate change and sustainability experts as well as policymakers, and those with indigenous knowledge of hot and arid climates from around the world, come together to share knowledge, ideas, and solutions on the planet’s most pressing environmental issues.“The Earthna Summit 2023 builds on our work in Qatar by convening stakeholders from across the world to share research and innovation, their lived experiences, their indigenous knowledge, and their ideas and solutions related to sustainability in hot and arid environments,” Dr Castro de la Mata, said.“Throughout the summit, there will be a focus on humanity’s historical connection with the environment, and how we can apply the indigenous practices that our ancestors used to address challenges that existed in their time, to current global thinking on sustainability and climate change,” he added.The summit will feature the Earthna Village, a public area at Baharat Msheireb displaying items and methods from different countries that are part of humanity’s cultural heritage, with an agora space hosting interactive talks and workshops.The summit aims to turn global sustainability conversations in the direction of hot and arid environments, reflecting that such global discussions have long been shaped by issues relevant to tropical and temperate countries – leading to a perception that hot and arid countries, and in particular those with desert environments, are less relevant to sustainability. It will seek to challenge this understanding and build new sustainability pathways for countries with similar climates to Qatar.It will also highlight the impacts of climate change on countries with hot and arid climates and their critical adaptation needs, and explore the positive contributions that countries such as Qatar can make towards energy transition and addressing climate change.“An area such as the Arabian Gulf is located in a desert environment and its biodiversity is different from others, so its path toward a sustainable future will also differ, and the journey of each country and each environment will be unique and requires pursuit in various paths, including cultural, environmental and social sustainability,” added, Howail.

Secretary-general of QFA Mansour Mohamed al-Ansari speaks during the 7th AFC Medical Conference at Aspire. PICTURE: Thajudheen
QFA has lined up several events, says al-Ansari

Close on the heels of the highly-successful FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the Qatar Football Association (QFA) is preparing to host a number of prominent football events in the coming period, including the AFC Asian Cup in January-February 2024.“Hosting the 2022 World Cup was the major milestone for us so far. The world continues to move and we continue with our efforts towards the next goals. We have lined up several events in the coming months and will be hosting the Asia Cup from January 2024,” said Mansour Mohamed al-Ansari, secretary-general, QFA.Al-Ansari was speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the seventh Medical Conference organised by the Asian Football Confederation, QFA and Aspetar – Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital.“We are also going to hopefully host the Olympic qualifiers for the under-23s sometime soon. We are very proud to be a sports hub in the region as the sporting world is in continuous evolution and development and we are very excited about it,” he continued.The official said the Qatar national team will participate in several high-profile events in the coming months. “We look forward to the best participation of our national team in many competitions. Our national team is going to participate in the Gold Cup in the summer this year in North America, and is also getting ready for the Asian Cup in January next year. We also have a lot of plans, which will be revealed in due course,” he added.

Dignitaries at the opening ceremony. PICTURE: Thajudheen
7th AFC Medical Conference opens in Doha

The 7th Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Medical Conference began at Westin Doha Saturday with the participation of a large number of experts in sports medicine.Organised by AFC, Aspetar - Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital and Qatar Football Association (QFA), the opening ceremony was attended by several dignitaries, including Mohamed Khalifa al-Suwaidi, director-general, Aspetar; Mansour Mohamed al-Ansari, secretary general, QFA; Dr Abdualaziz Jaham al-Kuwari, CEO of Aspetar; Windsor John, AFC general secretary; Hani Taleb Ballan, executive committee member, QFA, and CEO of Qatar Stars League; and Dr Gurcharan Singh, chairperson, AFC Medical Committee, among others.Al-Suwaidi said Aspetar is playing an active role in supporting football medicine expertise. He explained: “Aspetar has worked closely with the AFC with the intent of raising the bar from a global perspective, to illustrate the importance of research, football medicine expertise and practices that will help support all football clubs to perform at the highest level. We hope that the expertise shared over these few days will even be the playing field so that all participants can learn and apply evidence-based football medicine practices and research that the many distinguished scheduled speakers present.”Themed 'Football and Sports Medicine – Celebrating Diversity', the conference aims to empower participants to manage numerous football-related medical situations.John said: “The AFC, through its Vision and Mission, has put the success of our players and teams, at the heart of all our efforts and the development of sports science and medicine and the well-being of our players are crucial to the success of Asian football. In recent times, we have seen greater focus placed on mental health and the use of big data and technology in strengthening the decision-making process. In essence, the latest trends further underline the need to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach in our efforts to ensure the best possible outcomes for our teams and players.”The event brings together close to 120 renowned sports medicine and science professionals from the AFC, FIFA, UEFA, CONMEBOL, Confederation of African Football, International Olympic Committee and Aspetar to share their knowledge on 150 of the latest scientific medical advances with physicians, allied healthcare practitioners, nurses and pharmacists, among others.“This conference is an impactful and valuable event from the AFC. Holding this conference shows Qatar’s commitment to the sports people in making available the best and latest practice in sports medicine,” noted al-Ansari from QFA.More than 600 delegates will learn more about sports science and medicine’s latest challenges, best practices and cutting-edge developments via keynote addresses, lectures, symposia, poster presentations and clinical workshops.“It is a great honour to host this conference for the first time in Qatar and continue to work for the development of football in the country. We are committed to provide the latest research, expertise and practices so that the footballers can perform their best. We believe that the speakers and experts in the conference will share their expertise and knowledge to help the participants to work for the realisation of the full potential of the players,” said al-Kuwari in his welcome address.The conference, endorsed by the United Kingdom’s 'British Journal of Sports Medicine' for the first time, will also highlight the return of football after the Covid-19 pandemic and the game’s progress in terms of diversity and inclusion.The 3rd AFC Medical Awards will be held in conjunction with the conference proper tomorrow to celebrate the efforts and contributions of medical professionals in pushing the game forward.