Monday, March 04, 2024 | 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.
Officials at the press conference yesterday. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed
Qatar launches largest ever annual flu vaccination drive

Qatar has launched the annual seasonal flu vaccination campaign targeting a sizeable number of population. The vaccine will be available for free for citizens and residents from Tuesday. “We have a stock of about 500,000 doses of vaccine this year against 200,000 last year. This year it is all the more important to take the flu shot due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation,” said Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, chair of the National Health Strategic Group on Covid-19 and head of the Infectious Diseases Division at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC). The flu vaccine is available at 27 PHCC health centres, HMC outpatient clinics and designated private and semi-private clinics and hospitals across Qatar, in addition to the clinics that pertain to Qatar Armed Forces, and petroleum companies. People can avail the facility at more than 70 healthcare facilities including over 40 private clinics and hospitals as well and semi-governmental healthcare facilities. The flu vaccine will also be given to patients who receive home health care. Dr al-Khal was speaking at a press conference yesterday at the launch of the vaccination campaign along with Dr Hamad al-Romaihi, manager, Health Protection and Communicable Diseases at the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) , Dr Soha al-Bayat, head of Vaccination Unit, Health Protection and Communicable Disease Control Department at MoPH and Dr Khalid Hamid Elawad, manager, Health Protection, Preventive Health Directorate at Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC). “While flu and Covid-19 are two different viruses, it is important to ensure you are protected against the seasonal flu this year. Getting a flu shot this year is more important than ever because of Covid-19. The flu vaccine may not protect you against Covid-19, but it will reduce your risk of developing the flu and flu-related complications, and reduce the possibility of getting infected with both the flu and Covid-19 viruses at the same time. It also helps not to get confused with Covid-19 symptoms,” explained Dr al-Khal. The campaign is a joint initiative of MoPH, PHCC and HMC. “The campaign runs until February. But it is important that people get the flu shot at the earliest possible as the flu situation can be more serious in the months of December and January. Therefore it is advisable to take the flu shot at the earliest,” continued al-Khal. “The World Health Organisation has urged global widespread flu vaccinations this year, amid concerns the same people who are most vulnerable to severe symptoms from Covid-19, such as those aged over 50 and those with chronic conditions regardless of their age are also at greatest risk from the flu and its complications. We also urge children aged between six months and five years of age and pregnant women to be vaccinated against the seasonal flu. The flu can be particularly severe in pregnancy and the vaccine is highly safe and strongly recommended for pregnant women,” Dr al-Khal added. According to Dr al-Romaihi, the ministry has built a strong partnership with private healthcare providers to ensure easy access to the vaccine and increase levels of immunisation against the flu in the community. “Anyone can avail the vaccination facility at the PHCC health centres as well as at the selected semi-government and private healthcare facilities. Moreover all the measures are in place at all the health centres for safely administering the flu shot,” said Dr Elawad. “When you are going to get flu vaccine, be sure to practise everyday preventive actions. This includes wearing a mask, washing hands and keeping appropriate distance. People can either walk into their designated health centres or seek an appointment. We encourage people to go for vaccination early as it takes around two weeks for antibodies to develop and provide protection against flu," he added. Box Call 107 for an appointment People can call 107 to book an appointment to take the flu vaccine, advised Dr Abdullatif al-Khal. The flu vaccine can also be taken during visits for other appointments at the Primary Health Care Centres or the nearest health facility during the non-peak hours to avoid rush, he said. He told Qatar TV yesterday through a telephone interview that the symptoms of the seasonal flu could include body temperature of 40C, body, joints, bones and muscle pain, cough, inflammation of the upper respiratory tract, and headache. "The seasonal flu could also lead to severe complications in some people, depending on their age and health conditions and require hospitalisation, ICU admission and even result in death. The World Health Organisation reports around 650,000 cases of flu deaths a year," Dr al-Khal added.

Dr Mohan Thomas
ENT specialist cautions against seasonal illnesses in Covid-19 scenario

Considering the Covid-19 scenario, people must be doubly careful in the coming months as climate transition takes place in Qatar, resulting in seasonal illnesses, leading Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist Dr Mohan Thomas cautioned Friday. “Summer is over and the rainy and cold season is setting in. This is the time when many are affected with several seasonal illnesses. This year it is all the more important that we must be extremely careful as the world is still facing Covid-19 in a big way. Though we have succeeded in containing Covid-19 in Qatar to a great extent, people have to follow all the preventive and precautionary measures until a vaccine is made available,” he told Gulf Times. According to Dr Thomas, who has over three decades of experience in Qatar alone, people must not take any of the symptoms of these illnesses lightly. “Generally many people are affected by influenza in this season. Many might feel symptoms such as sneezing, running nose, cough and fever and body pain among other symptoms. Many of these symptoms are similar to Covid-19 and one has to be very careful and must seek urgent medical advice if they are affected by any of these,” he explained. The physician also warned that there is a feeling among the population that Covid-19 impact is almost over in the country. “Several people who come for consultation feel that Covid-19 is done with in Qatar. It is a false belief as the pandemic can spread again any time as we see in many countries. We have to strictly follow all the practices such as wearing mask, social distancing, using soap and sanitiser as well as maintaining personal hygiene. Until we get an effective vaccine, people must make sure that all the protocols regarding Covid-19 are in place.” Dr Thomas also advised all Qatar residents, especially the vulnerable groups, to get the flu vaccine as and when it is rolled out in the country. “Getting a flu shot is very important, especially this year in the Covid-19 scenario as it can help prevent all the seasonal illnesses for most people. Once the flu vaccine is taken, people can be rest assured that they are free from most such diseases and keep themselves fit. This will also help in fighting and preventing the spread of Covid-19. So I would advise everyone to get a flu shot when the government announces the campaign,” he pointed out. The specialist also suggested that people should not go for self-treatment in case they find any symptoms of seasonal diseases or Covid-19. “If anyone develops symptoms of seasonal illnesses or Covid-19, they should always seek expert medical attention. Self-treatment can worsen the situation and even complicate the situation. Symptoms such as fever, throat pain, and cough among others are common for both diseases. They should also be careful, if they feel loss of taste or smell or suffer from vomiting or diarrhoea. Since many symptoms are similar in both illnesses, people may get confused,” he warned. Dr Thomas pointed out that everyone have to make changes in their clothing, lifestyle as well as diet in the winter months. “One should try to wear warm and long sleeved clothing. The room temperature also should be maintained at about 24C. Have a healthy diet, with more vegetables and fruits. This will help in improving the immunity and prevent most of the diseases,” he added.

Prof Mel Ainscow
Recovery strategies in education must emphasise on inclusion, fairness

With Covid-19 wreaking havoc on the global education scenario in a big way, an international expert has highlighted that recovery strategies must emphasise on inclusion and fairness for every child. “I emphasise the importance of equity in education and the recovery strategies must include fairness and inclusion of all the students. Ensuring that all children receive effective support from their families, schools and communities is essential to the promotion of equity. These principles are explained in a recent Unesco report titled ‘Every learner matters and matters equally,’ Prof Mel Ainscow told Gulf Times. He was the keynote speaker at the Teaching & Learning Forum organised by the Pre-University Education at Qatar Foundation recently. Ainscow is a professor of education at the University of Glasgow, Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Manchester and adjunct professor at Queensland University of Technology, Australia as well as a long-term consultant to Unesco. “Throughout the world the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown light on challenges that we knew were there before. In particular, it has shown how certain groups of students are disadvantaged as far as educational progress is concerned. These groups vary from country but those from economically poor backgrounds are a matter of particular concern,” he explained. The academic was also highly appreciative of the educational initiatives by Qatar and the leadership being provided by the Qatar Foundation in this regard. “There is no doubt that this kind of strategic leadership is vital in order to bring stakeholders together in addressing the challenges schools face in supporting the learning of all students,” he said. He noted that the teachers in this scenario have to focus on ensuring the presence, participation and progress of all students. “The implication is that teachers have to develop their practices in ways that will ensure that every child attends school regularly, feels valued and is engaged in their lessons. At the same time, schools have to be organised in ways that provide support to teachers as they address this challenge. This has significant implications for school leaders, who must make sure that this happens,” Prof Ainscow said. According to the professor of education, there is not one single model of what an inclusive school looks like. “What is common to highly inclusive schools, however, is that they are welcoming and supportive places for all of their students, not least for those with disabilities and others who experience difficulties in learning and socialisation. When schools are successful in moving in a more inclusive direction, there is usually a degree of consensus amongst adults around values of respect for difference and a commitment to offering all students access to learning opportunities,” he said. The education expert also felt that in the emerging scenario, there is likely to be a high level of staff collaboration and joint problem-solving, and similar values and commitments may extend into the student body, and amongst families and other community stakeholders associated with the school. Quoting certain findings in a research, he maintained that ‘schools know more than they use’. “This means that the starting point for strengthening the work of a school is with the sharing of existing practices through collaboration amongst staff, leading to experimentation with new practices that will reach out to all students. The use of evidence to study teaching within a school can help foster the development of practices that are more effective in reaching hard to reach learners. Specifically, this can create space for rethinking by interrupting existing discourses,” he added.

Speakers on the first day of the event
Sheikha Moza attends QF’s ‘Empowering Innovation’ event

Qatar Foundation (QF) chairperson Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Wednesday attended an online event celebrating 25 years of QF's commitment to research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Sheikha Moza was joined by QF's senior officials and representatives of research and academic institutions from Qatar’s research, development, and innovation community. ‘Empowering Innovation’, a two-day event, is organised by QF Research, Development and Innovation's (QF RDI) division, Industry Development and Knowledge Transfer (IDKT). At the event, the winners of the award for distinguished inventor; distinguished creator and innovation of the year 2020 were announced. Dr Kareem Darwish, Distinguished Creator of the Year 2020 Dr Nimir El Bashir, Distinguished Inventor of the Year 2020 Dr Kareem Darwish of Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), a part of QF’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University; Dr Nimir El Bashir of QF partner university Texas A&M University at Qatar; and Automatic Generation of Personas – a tool for generating user personas from gathering social media data by QCRI, were accorded the awards of Distinguished Creator of the Year 2020; Distinguished Inventor of the Year 2020; and Innovation of the Year 2020, respectively. The event is a celebration of QF’s dedication for the past 25 years, of driving innovation, research and entrepreneurship, fostering social development and a culture of lifelong learning, and preparing bright minds to tackle the challenges of tomorrow. Dr Richard O'Kennedy, vice president, QF RDI, opened the event highlighting the role of QF in nurturing Qatar’s innovation ecosystem. “Innovation is vital for our societies to function efficiently and absolutely necessary in achieving national and global sustainable development goals. The existing issues such as climate change, growing chronic diseases and expanding social economic disparities can’t be addressed without novel ideas and disruptive technologies. Qatar Foundation understands this reality and for the last 25 years has been instrumental in nurturing Qatar’s innovation ecosystem,” explained O’Kennedy. “Qatar Foundation has been able to address national priorities and provide impactful solutions to society’s many challenges. With contributions from many of its institutions, Qatar Foundation is bringing novel ideas and products to the global market,” he highlighted. “The research, development and innovation landscape at Qatar Foundation encompasses infrastructure, talent, and policy with stakeholders spanning academia, technology, entrepreneurship, and healthcare. This structure enables the efficient exchange of knowledge, skills, and techniques, which foster the development of the scientific community and economic growth,” he added. The event also featured the unveiling of the “Wall of Innovation”; and a keynote speech by Wesley Blakeslee, IP Policy & Innovation Infrastructure expert. Blakeslee presented an overview of QF’s initiatives in policy development relating to intellectual property and entrepreneurship, and where those initiatives place QF in progressing its innovation ecosystem. Highlighting some of the support mechanisms, QF RDI has put in place to help inventors and innovators develop their ideas into marketable products, Dr O'Kennedy outlined the features of the Innovation Coupon; the Innovation Fellowship; and Entrepreneurial Leave, as well as the Technology Venture Fund offered by Qatar Science & Technology Park. He also announced that IDKT had developed a new searchable website and complementary tools in the form of guidebooks to assist Qatar’s community members in working with QFRDI’s researchers, inventors, technologists, and entrepreneurs. Since its founding, QF has earned an increasing number of national and international patents. These successes underscore QF’s unrelenting efforts to support the development of solutions to national and global challenges, and the capability of its RDI infrastructure to develop ideas and transform them into impactful market-ready innovations. To highlight this accomplishment, Dr O'Kennedy unveiled the Digital Wall of Innovation – a virtual showcase of close to 80 patents awarded to QF in recent years, and honouring the brilliant inventors behind them. Dr O’Kennedy also recognised the key contributors for Commercial Licensing Activity, highlighting QF staff who have played vital roles in facilitating successful licensing of inventions or creative works for commercial purposes. “With these initiatives, and numerous others empowering people to invent and innovate, I am confident that we will see more patents and better solutions to national and global challenges,” added, Dr O'Kennedy. Day two of the celebration will see a high-powered panel discussion tackle the importance of focusing on Technology Maturation and Commercialisation activities to deliver more impactful results.

Victoria Basma, policy and partnerships officer, WISE
WISE to launch edtech testbed in Education City

The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) will launch an edtech testbed in the Education City of Qatar Foundation very soon. “This year, in collaboration with a few select schools around Education City, WISE is planning to launch one of its most ambitious projects to date. Using technology available through the WISE Accelerator, we want to provide these local schools with access to new solutions, further the professional development of teachers and together, build a deeper understanding around edtech,” disclosed Victoria Basma, policy and partnerships officer, WISE. “We also aim to create a learning ecosystem made of researchers, practitioners and education specialists who are capable of driving innovation in education forward both here in Qatar and within the global community,” she continued. Edtech, a portmanteau of the phrase “education technology," is the combination of IT tools and educational practices aimed at facilitating and enhancing learning. According to Basma, over the last six years, WISE, a global education initiative of Qatar Foundation, has managed an Accelerator programme that has worked closely with edtech entrepreneurs. “Through this programme, we have gained valuable insight into the edtech landscape, the stakeholders in this space and the types of challenges they face. Communication between schools and edtech providers is inconsistent and they lack a shared vision for education. There is little understanding of what works in edtech and why many schools want to be part of leading innovation, but lack the culture of experimentation and testing that is required to do so. We also know that while there are a number of testbeds around the world, there remains a distinct lack of research that schools can use to make evidence based decisions around edtech,” explained Basma. The official also noted that it is all the more important to engage parents in the teaching and learning processes especially when it comes to education technologies. “Over the last couple of months, disrupted routines for both students and their families have created a great deal of anxiety over how students will be reintroduced to classrooms and what will be asked of parents to support them. Since the beginning of school closures earlier in the year, many parents have struggled to maintain their own motivation and wellbeing. While it’s important to work closely with parents over the coming weeks to ensure students are engaging with learning online, it’s also key to remember that there are limits to what we can achieve,” she said. Basma felt that both teachers and parents should be realistic about their expectations about the students. “ Our expectations of one another should remain realistic and it will be the responsibility of both sides to clearly communicate those needs and capacities. In the future, the types of data collected by edtech will likely provide an opportunity for parents to observe the incremental progress made by students over a term and perhaps even empower them to act on that data, but for now the focus should be on the basics,” she maintained. Basma also stated that during the Covid-19 pandemic, it became clear that traditional, linear structures of learning were not suitable for the blended learning approaches that schools are trying to implement. “The greatest potential for technology now lies in its ability to help educators reimagine what modern education looks like. We could even use the digital space to reimagine higher education further, by delivering course modules based on subscription, which could help solve major issues around equity and access. There is endless potential in the way we can apply technology for the future of learning, but the key is to really understand from the bottom up what the needs are and leverage technology to meet them,” added the official.

Indian ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal giving the opening remarks.
Webinar explores business, employment opportunities for returning Keralites

A webinar on ‘Dream Kerala’ project, an initiative of the southern Indian state's government, Friday discussed various openings and investment opportunities for returning as well as investors and entrepreneurs. Organised by Kerala Business Forum (KBF) Qatar, the webinar was attended by leading Keralite businessmen in the country who explored the business offerings in their home state. Dr Ellangovan addressing the webinar Opening the webinar, Indian ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal highlighted the importance of the Dream Kerala initiative and applauded the move especially in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic that has affected every aspect of life of the entire humanity. “Covid-19, a healthcare crisis, has run into every aspect of life and affected the economy in a huge way. About 60,000 Indians have returned from Qatar alone with many of them looking for opportunities in their home states. In this context, a project such as ‘Dream Kerala’ is an excellent initiative which is innovative and a great move to accommodate the retuning Indians and provide them with opportunities. Such efforts need to be lauded and encouraged,” said Dr Mittal. Dr Ellangovan, principal secretary, Department of Industries and Commerce, Kerala, delivered the keynote address at the webinar. According to Ellangovan, the Dream Kerala project aims to rehabilitate returnee migrants by integrating them into the state’s economic sector. He also disclosed that a total of 41,356 residents from Qatar alone have returned to Kerala while over 400,000 Keralites have moved back to the state during the pandemic. “The project provides opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship. We invite and plan to collect suggestions and ideas from everyone to be added as part of the project. From these suggestions and opinions, implementable projects and programmes will be formulated. We also want to create a skill repository of returnee migrants from Kerala for employment. Presently all these plans are expected to be formulated in 100 days,” he explained. He also outlined several measures taken by the Kerala government to make entrepreneurship and investment smoother in the state. “An expert committee will be formed to provide advice and implementation of each business idea. The licensing procedure has been made easier and smoother so that individuals or groups can get the approvals faster. There will be an investment facilitation centre and a toll free number for investors to get all the information necessary. All approvals are expected to be completed in one-week time,” added, Ellangovan. The keynote session was followed by a question and answer session where the questions were answered by Ellangovan as well as M G Rajajmanickam , managing director of Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation. Angeline Premalatha, counsellor at the Indian embassy, was the guest of honour at the event while Azim Abbas, president, Indian Business and Professional Council offered his felicitations. K R Jayaraj, president KBF and other officials of the organisation co-ordinated the webinar. Dream Kerala project was announced by Kerala government recently for rehabilitation of the Keralites returning from various countries and for the overall development of the State. The project aims, not only, the rehabilitation of the returnees but also for reviving the economy of the state using the skill and knowledge of the returnees.

David Goldblatt
World Cup in Qatar to set standards for future editions: UK football author

Qatar is likely to set standards for future World Cup editions by hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 with several unique features and initiatives, a leading football author noted Tuesday. “Qatar has set very high standards for environmental protection. I think the 2022 World Cup is going to set the standards for future World Cups. The ambition and commitment of Qatar towards environment is very strong and very unique in global sports,” said David Goldblatt, bestselling British author, journalist and sociologist. Goldblatt was speaking at the World Cup 2022 Lecture Series launched by Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q). The online event, ‘The 2022 World Cup in Qatar in Historical Perspective’, was moderated by Dr Danyel Reiche, a visiting professor at GU-Q. “The 2006 World Cup in Germany was the first one to have a proper dimension for the environmental aspects of the major sporting event. The 2014 and 2018 World Cup editions had full-scale carbon analysis. 2022 is genuinely different. The commitment of the Qatar government towards environment is really noteworthy for a carbon-zero event. The seriousness towards to this commitment is seen in the construction as well as the public transport arrangements for the World Cup,” explained Goldblatt. Speaking on the other aspects of the upcoming World Cup, Goldblatt said this is going to be the first World Cup in the winter in its entire history. He also said the 2022 World Cup has the potential to be termed the 'Middle East World Cup'. “It builds on the experience of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, which was termed as 'Africa’s World Cup'. Qatar, in that case, stands in relation to the wider Middle Eastern region. This is the first major world sports mega event in a Muslim-majority, Arab-speaking Middle Eastern country. Finally, it has come to the region and I think it has a profound significance for the region,” he stressed. The journalist noted it would be interesting to see if this World Cup generates the same vibes as the 'pan-African' World Cup in 2010, and it is to be seen "if the same can be replicated and put the region seriously on the sporting map". Starting the lecture with a chronology of the developments all through the history of World Cups from 1930, Goldblatt highlighted several similarities between the first World Cup in Uruguay and the upcoming one in Qatar, such as the population of the two countries and other geographical features. He also highlighted the evolution of the World Cup and the changes that happened in the last 90 years. The next edition of the World Cup 2022 Lecture Series will take place in November.

Dr Nahla Afifi
Genomics data protected against any security breach: Qatar Biobank

Qatar Biobank, which collected 363,076 samples from 25,934 participants so far, has ensured that the genomics data acquired by the institute is stored and protected against any security breach. “The genomics data is kept within the borders of Qatar in a secure environment so that it does not become exposed to the Internet and become vulnerable to hackers,” said Dr Nahla Afifi, director, Qatar Biobank, a part of Qatar Foundation. The human genome is perhaps the single most vital and powerful piece of information about a human being. It reveals sensitive information about their past, present, and future –important clues to diseases. “As long as it is anonymised data, we can share it,” Dr Afifi explained. “But it is very important, especially in Qatar, that individual data is not shared. Qatar is a small country, and if you find a variant or a genetic disease and you identify the individual, you will be able to identify the family of this person directly. I find this as a challenge here, and so we have to be careful in how we share our data.” It is not just privacy that is often the top priority for such data; the ownership of this data also remains a critical aspect of genomic research. However, if this data is withheld, it could mean scientists will be unable to tackle chronic diseases, especially those that are prevalent in the region. “There are different examples of data collection and governance of data,” says Dr Afifi, “If you look at the Scandinavian model, they have a very well-established database that includes information from the time a person is born until their death. It's a slightly open access model without many constraints.” As a large-scale medical research initiative which collects data and biological samples from the local population, Qatar Biobank is working to develop customised medical solutions to the various diseases and health issues prevalent in the country. And if hacked, as Ameena al-Emadi, IT manager at Qatar Biobank explained, “The data can be used to identify the vulnerabilities of a nation, for example and viruses can be produced to attack that country.” “We consider genomics data as highly sensitive and is stored in a sealed environment and no external or unauthorised users can get access to it, not even for research, unless it comes through a proper request channel, said al-Emadi. “All our systems are built in-house, and all our data is stored in locally hosted systems. Genomic sequencing for our samples is done at Sidra Medicine, where the DNA samples are also stored. This is a huge infrastructure which Qatar Foundation invested to build.” As a large-scale medical research initiative which collects data and biological samples from the local population, Qatar Biobank is working to develop customised medical solutions to the various diseases and health issues prevalent in the country. And through such efforts, Qatar Biobank will make it possible for scientists to conduct research to address some of the greatest health challenges facing Qatar and the region, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer. A genome is the complete set of a living being's DNA. A single human genome contains more than 3bn DNA base pairs and takes up to 100 gigabytes of storage space. With the advancement of precision medicine and genomic research expanding, more and more genomes are being sequenced, with storage space eventually expected to run into exabytes – the equivalent of 1bn bytes. Qatar’s investment in research, development and innovation reflects its aspirations to help revive the Arab world’s tradition of scientific discovery and innovative thinking – and shape a healthier nation and a healthier world.

HE Sheikha Alya Ahmed Saif al-Thani and other panellists at the event.
Qatar will support cross-sector collaboration in education: Alya

Qatar will never give up on pursuing the right to education and always explore possibilities for cross-sector collaboration to support education globally, HE Sheikha Alya Ahmed Saif al-Thani, Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations said Wednesday. Giving the opening remarks at a webinar on ‘Government and Foundation Partners Demonstrate Effective Cross-sectoral Collaboration to Meet SDG4/Support 2030 Decade of Action’, Sheikha Alya said: “The collaboration between government and foundations is a key objective in the foreign policy of Qatar and achieving cross-sector collaboration through partnerships to the realisation of Sustainable Development Goals, particularly the goal for the development of education is a priority for the country.” The webinar was organised by Education Above All Foundation (EAA) in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Qatar to the United Nations, Qatar Fund For Development (QFFD), UN Office for Partnerships, and Unesco. Acknowledging the importance of convening the meeting on this timely topic and the challenges that education faces, Sheikha Alya said that no single organisation or strategy can change any complex social challenges such as the ones posed by education. “This is the work we do in Qatar on the ground both at the governmental and non-governmental level. Covid-19 has proved that cross-sector collaboration is absolutely indispensable and only through collaborations can we arrive at and adapt innovative solutions to face the new realities and secure educational needs of millions of children around the world,” she said. “Covid-19 is impacting on all aspects of education and is exhausting the pre-existing education systems by reducing opportunities for the most vulnerable groups of children. Weaker sections of children living in remote areas find themselves difficult to continue their learning,” she said. Sheikha Alya said that EAA has been at the forefront of building and managing successful cross-sector partnerships and multi-sectoral programmes as critical tools to make meaningful programmes for sustainable development goals in education. “EAA is well-known for its ability to pool resources, knowledge and networks in order to open doors of opportunities. Its Educate A Child Programme has facilitated the enrolment of at least 10mn out-of-school children due to poverty or social and cultural barriers or in conflict areas. This is done with partnerships with governments and other organisations,” she said. She also noted that the 75th anniversary of the United Nations is an important opportunity for the uplifting of education. “We need to keep up education and realise the right of education at the forefront in all settings specifically in complex settings. This is something that Qatar will continue to pursue through the work we have done by putting education on the agenda of UN in the General Assembly in 2010,” she added. Stefania Giannini, assistant director-general for education, Unesco, outlined the impact of school closures due to Covid-19 and the potential consequences. “We will convene a big global education meet on October 22 to discuss the major issues and to put education on the frontline. It will explore stimulus packages for education and not to leave education behind. We need everyone’s talents and resources to keep education at the centre to address the magnitude of the crisis and find solutions,” she said. QFFD director general Khalifa Jassim al-Kuwari and EAA CEO Fahad al-Sulaiti also addressed the gathering. A panel discussion featuring ministers, several educational experts and CEOs discussed the current challenges in education. The participants discussed ways to enhance collaboration among vital actors, specifically countries, civil society and foundations, policymakers, and institutions engaged in education, development and humanitarian responses to accelerate progress on SDG4 and the related SDGs targets.

Participants at the panel discussion, following the launch of the e-book.
WISE launches e-book at UNGA Global Goals week event

The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), a global education initiative of Qatar Foundation (QF), has released an e-book with an introduction by HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, vice chairperson and CEO of QF. WISE also hosted a 90-minute online panel discussion launching the WISE special edition e-book ‘Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined: Thoughts and Responses from Education’s Frontline during the Covid-19 Pandemic and Beyond.’ in support of QF’s platform at the UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) Global Goals week. Announcing the launch of the e-book at the webinar Tuesday, Stavros N Yiannouka, CEO of WISE, said the release of the book was the fulfillment of the shared vision that quality education for all should be a reality, no matter what the circumstances are. “This e-book presents real and true diversity of voices experiencing and reflecting on this crisis and its implications on education. The book has contributions from over 50 authors from around the world, including prime ministers, former prime ministers, CEOs, researchers and practitioners,” said Yiannouka. “These are reflections on arguably the greatest education challenge in several generations. It also gives the optimism that this crisis will provide inferences for us to seize the opportunity to fundamentally rethink the why, what and how of the education,” he said. During the panel discussion, some of the contributors of the e-book highlighted the challenges, difficulties and the experiences during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis on education. They also shared the lessons learnt, realities faced and the expectations about the education scenario in the post-Covid-19 scenario. The panel discussion included: Andreas Schleicher, director for education and skills, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; Asif Saleh, executive director, Building Resources Across Communities, Bangladesh; Marc Brackett, director of Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence, Yale University; Rebecca Telford, chief, Education Section, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency; Stanaela Beckley, chair, Sierra Leone Teaching Services Commission and Daniela Labra Cardero, co-founder, Atentamente, Mexico. The session was moderated by Dominic Regester from Salzburg Global Seminar and Julia Kirby, WISE. Dr Asmaa al-Fadala, director of research and content development at WISE is one of the editors of the e-book while the foreword is written by Yiannouka. The basis of the e-book is WISE’s successful convening series on the impact of Covid-19 on education – Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined – which through three virtual events featuring policymakers, thought leaders and practitioners from around the globe, has reached thousands of participants worldwide. WISE has published this special edition e-book to document the experiences of key institutions on education’s frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic. Through contributions from authors representing NGOs, governments, international institutions and schools around the world, the book tells the education narrative during Covid-19 pandemic in real time.

Late S P Balasubrahmanyam
Indian community pays tributes to music legend

Prominent members and music lovers of the Indian community joined an online event on Sunday to pay homage to Indian music legend, S P Balasubrahmanyam who died last Friday. Popularly known as SPB, the acclaimed singer was hospitalised in Chennai due to Covid -19. He died last Friday though he had recovered from Covid-19 several days before his death. Many Indian community members took part in the condolence meeting and everyone who spoke on the occasion paid tribute to the versatile singer who has sung over 42,000 songs in 16 languages. Several of them shared recollections- many of them personal- about his soulful singing as well as his commitment and dedication to his profession. Office-bearers of the apex bodies under the Indian embassy, music fans as well as some prominent musicians from India offered condolences on the occasion and highlighted qualities of S P Balasubrahmanyam as a great singer and a greater human being. While South Indian singer Unnikrishnan took part in the online meeting and spoke at length about the singer and his versatility, another notable singer, Unni Menon offered his tributes through a video message. Both the singers who had been closely associated with S P Balasubrahmanyam described him as a ‘fatherly figure’ and a ‘musical genius’ who comes along once in a lifetime. Indian Cultural Centre president, A P Manikantan, Indian Community Benevolent Forum president P N Baburaj, Indian Business and Professional Network, president Azim Abbas were among the speakers. Manikantan noted that SPB could "transcend from one genre to another quite effortlessly" and could entertain every one of the audience during a stage performance. Abbas and Baburaj highlighted that SPB was more than a singer and was an epitome of "dedication and commitment." Doha Bank CEO, R Seetharaman recollected his personal association with SPB and highlighted that humility was the hallmark of the legendary singer. He also noted how SPB was able to entertain the crowd in his public performances and he was so keen to practise fully well before any show, that at times he even skipped his daily meals before the show. Several others, including former office-bearers of the apex bodies, music lovers from the community as well as other well-wishers of the late singer spoke at length about him. Vinod Nair, vice president of Indian Cultural Centre and Gopal Subramaniam co-ordinated the meeting.

Alfardan Medical with Northwestern Medicine staff.
Alfardan Group and Northwestern Medicine open new healthcare facility at Lusail City

Alfardan Group in partnership with Northwestern Medicine, has ventured into the medical sector in the country with the opening of Alfardan Medical with Northwestern Medicine (AMNM), a patient-centric, ambulatory care centre at Lusail City. The details of the new centre were announced at a webinar on Sunday, attended by officials of Alfardan Group as well as Northwestern Medicine. Omar Hussain Alfardan, president and CEO of Alfardan Group; Dr Jessica Adam, chief medical officer of AMNM; Dr Daniel Derman from Northwestern Medicine and other officials took part in the webinar. AMNM is the result of an international collaboration between Alfardan Group and US-based Northwestern Medicine. At AMNM’s state-of-the-art treatment facilities, service excellence, combined with advanced patient-centric care, is provided by a multinational medical team with top US medical talent making up a large proportion of the centre’s staff. Omar Alfardan said: "The co-operation between us and Northwestern Medicine is built on the shared values of service excellence and delivering world-class experiences. AMNM will deliver advanced integrated healthcare by leveraging Northwestern Medicine’s expertise in medical services and Alfardan Group’s renowned capacity for service excellence. These merits will position AMNM as one of the leading healthcare providers in the country.” “Opening a new healthcare facility during a pandemic is not easy, but our strong commitment and dedication to serving the community and providing service excellence, even in times of uncertainty, has compelled us to ensure that AMNM is ready to welcome patients. I would like to sincerely thank the Ministry of Public Health for their support as we begin to operate,” he added. The introduction of AMNM in Qatar marks Alfardan Group’s first venture in the healthcare sector. The partnership between Alfardan Group and Northwestern Medicine for AMNM leverages both organisations’ complementary strengths: Alfardan Group’s legacy and scale in offering hospitality and luxury experiences, and Northwestern Medicine’s longstanding history and leadership in the medical field. The Chicago-based Northwestern Medicine is one of the US’s leading academic health systems, anchored by Northwestern Memorial Hospital, one of the top-ranked hospitals in the United States. At AMNM, experienced, high-calibre physicians provide high-quality medical care in various medical specialties, including Ear, Nose and Throat, Dentistry, Dermatology, Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics, Plastic Surgery, Reproductive/ Endocrinology/ Infertility, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Sleep Medicine and Executive Health. At AMNM, patients will receive high-quality medical care from outstanding doctors and friendly medical staff using state-of-the-art, US Food and Drug Administration approved equipment. This equipment aids physicians’ fluidity of movement and their efficient service delivery, ensuring the patients’ comfort and an overall seamless journey across the facility. Spanning over six floors in the iconic Burj Alfardan, AMNM’s facilities have been designed around the patient’s experience, adhering to international benchmarks and standards of medical infrastructure, architectural design, and services. AMNM offers patients and their families an environment of privacy and comfort, in a luxurious setting. Dr Adam said: “Powered by academic heritage, tech-led innovation, and a continuous pursuit of service excellence, Northwestern Medicine boasts a proven track record in the delivery of a premier healthcare system and patient-centric care. At AMNM, the patients’ individuality is respected, empowering them to become active participants and make informed decisions about their healthcare plans. By bringing Northwestern Medicine’s patient-centric care model to Qatar, we have ensured that AMNM will be one of the leading forces in offering research-based, high-quality, and compassionate care in the country.” “Supporting the delivery of world-class care with an exceptional experience in Lusail City is an important milestone for our Patients First mission. As the world continues to respond to the global Covid-19 pandemic, this facility provides Northwestern Medicine the opportunity to partner with the Alfardan Group to serve the people of Qatar,” noted, Dean M Harrison, president and chief executive officer, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare. All Covid protocols are in place at AMNM for the safety of staff and patients. Public can book an appointment through 4004 6000 or visit for more information.

Dr Agustin Indaco
Qatari Quality Mark a competitive edge for local companies

The Qatari Quality Mark, launched recently, represents the passport for local companies to go international while strengthening their competitiveness in the local market, a Qatar Foundation (QF) economist has said. “A quality mark indicates that a country has set up certain standards and regulations which specific companies and products aiming to obtain it, must meet," explained Dr Agustín Indaco, assistant professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, a QF partner university. As soon as a quality mark is announced in any country, companies often seek to obtain it to ensure they follow the rules and regulations set by that country, he pointed out. Qatar Quality Mark is a way of gaining consumer trust at a time when the Qatari market has opened up to new international products as well as giving them a competitive edge when it comes to local tenders. “Each country can set its own quality mark standards, whether more lenient or more strict and some countries focus on certain standards more than others. Certain countries may focus on environmental standards while others focus on those that will enhance their competitiveness in international markets across different sectors. This applies to the quality mark model in Qatar, where quality checks are in line with international standards,” explained Dr Indaco. In the first phase, Qatar will focus on national products manufactured in Qatari factories, and in the second phase, the focus will be on countries around the world which are seeking to obtain the Qatari Quality Mark. Those wishing to obtain this mark must submit a technical profile to the Qatar General Organisation for Standards and Metrology, to prove they meet its standards – from product specifications, labour, and production processes, to employee training and certificates, workflow, and other quality certificates they have received. They also need to meet a number of international requirements and regulations if they are to be granted the mark with a renewable two-year licence. Many makers of local products in Qatar are looking to expand beyond the country after fulfilling local market demand and contributing to the Qatari economy in the wake of the blockade of the nation and the challenges posed by Covid-19. “For the producing company, setting specific quality standards helps the company to abide by these standards and gain brand recognition. As for the consumer, this mark is a symbol of recognised, proven high-quality products that meet all national standards,” Dr Indaco said. “People usually trust certain products, and so when companies obtain the Qatari Quality Mark, it helps them attract new customers faster and gain their trust without the need for large commercial campaigns,” Dr Indaco noted. “And it means that their products are trustworthy.” As for what a quality mark means for startups and SMEs, Dr Indaco said, “The Qatari Quality Mark contributes to accelerating the work of high-quality startups by setting specific and clear standards for these companies to abide by from the start.” He believes that the biggest challenge will be for medium-sized companies, which must carefully choose the market they are targeting, whether by applying to compete with high-quality companies or by retreating into what they may see as more competitive a market based around low price, regardless of quality. He stated that the the mark will encourage innovation and creativity among startups, and in this way it reflects the values QF seeks to instill in its students. “The launch of Qatari Quality Mark supports our ongoing mission to educate and develop creative minds, and to inspire and encourage our students to innovate and implement projects that rely on high quality. This will allow us to determine what projects meet national standards that we can include as models for study in our educational curricula, as discussions are ongoing with students about the specifications that distinguish the product," he added.

HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani along with other panellists.
Sheikha Hind highlights challenges in education at global panel discussion

Disruption is ‘a way of life ‘and technology alone cannot be the tool to face the challenges in education, HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, vice chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation, has highlighted. She was addressing an online panel discussion organised by Qatar Foundation Wednesday as part of its contribution to the 2020 Global Goals Week. The panel brought together several high profile education leaders from around the world. ‘Adapting to online education overnight due to Covid-19 was a huge challenge. However, it has also brought in real opportunity for true disruption in education. Disrupting education means thinking about its true purpose and not solely focusing on technology,” said Sheikha Hind at the opening of the panel discussion on the future of learning. “We talk about access to technology, but it is just a tool – it doesn’t really look at whether our children are learning or not, or how it will help them prosper in the world. - We have to go back to what we are teaching our children, and for what purpose,” noted, Sheikha Hind. “Technology is not a fix for everything. Now, we are in a pandemic and we have to make do with what we have, so our reaction is to try to continue education by doing it online. We can’t create technology that substitutes for a learning environment that encompasses so many different elements, and is not just about the content and the knowledge that a child acquires.” While saying that the world is “not even close to disrupting education to how it should look”, Sheikha Hind explained: “What has happened today, with Covid-19, has allowed us to reflect on how some tools that we thought were so important have actually proved to be irrelevant. “The fact students didn’t have to sit exams and still graduated from high school and managed to go to university tells us a lot. There are ways around things that we thought were core principles of how education should look. “Once we figure out what the true purpose of education is, a lot of the issues we face will be resolved. If our ultimate purpose is to nurture self-motivated learners, whether they are children or adults, these issues would be miniscule.” Speaking about her own vision for the future of education, the QF vice president said, “Moving forward, we must recognise that whatever we have been doing for centuries is obviously not working, and the pandemic has proven to us that even the quick fixes we have had are also not working. “The question now is how we work in parallel – providing the short-term solutions we do need for children, parents, and teachers who are suffering, but at the same time having a long-term vision to understand what our ultimate goal is. Is it to graduate a number of students every year, or is there really a purpose behind what we do? “Much more reflection is happening in education today, because we have a feeling that our education systems are not resilient enough. The more we experiment and take risks, the better prepared we will be the future. And we should not be worried about taking risks; we are in a pandemic and people are willing to try new things, because we have seen first-hand that what we have is not working for everyone.” Danilo Türk, former President of Slovenia, warned that Covid-19 had deepened “fault lines between those who can afford distance learning and those who cannot”, and suggested that countries such as Qatar that have had “a long-term vision for education” can show leadership in this field to the world. Other speakers on the panel were Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme; Gabriela Cuevas Barron, president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union; Prof Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Centre for Sustainable Development at Columbia University and Sarah Cliffe, director of the Centre on International Cooperation at New York University.

The vehicle, Core
Qatari start-up develops region’s first self-driving utility vehicle

Heralding a new era of technology in Qatar, a startup based at Qatar Science and technology Park (QSTP) has developed a self-driving utility platform. Named Core and claimed to be the first in Qatar and the region, it is one of the winners of the Innovation Coupon, a grant, launched recently by Qatar Foundation Research Development and Innovation. “Core is a self-driving utility vehicle, compact in size and ideal for operations on sidewalks and bike-lanes. Our vehicle will be used in the first self-driving contactless delivery pilot in public areas in the Netherlands next week. The vehicle has been shipped from Qatar for the pilot,” Munera Fahad Aldosari, co-founder, Airlift QSTP-LLC disclosed in an exclusive interview with Gulf Times. Munera Fahad Aldosari, co-founder, Airlift QSTP-LLC, Ahmed Mohamedali, general manager, Airlift Airlift is a technology startup offering a mobile utility platform to unlock the value of autonomous systems for all. “From our headquarters in Qatar and tech hub in the Netherlands, we work with smart cities to identify new strategies to increase quality of life of their citizens while maintaining economic competitiveness using our modular self-driving vehicle,” explained, Aldosari. “Innovation Coupon aims to help local entrepreneurs and startups scale their innovative ideas. We’re grateful for the support received from QF to our talented team and such initiatives will contribute substantially to the innovation movement in Qatar and help scale it globally,” continued, Aldosari. According to Ahmed Mohamedali, general manager, Airlift is developing a mobile robotic platform for low speed multi-use functionality. “Powered by its self-driving capability, the Core platform consists of electric vehicle, self-driving navigation, computer vision, cloud computing, command and control and data analytics systems. It is ideal for contactless last-mile delivery and mobility, inspection, surveillance and data collection applications,” he said. Mohamedali revealed that there are two variations of Core. “We are announcing our focus on moving people and things with two variations of Core. Core for delivery and Core - in the pipeline - for mobility. However, we’re also offering our platform for enterprises that would be willing to experiment with our self-driving technology which is cost effective and agile to capture its value and augment their staff productivity,” he continued. First in Qatar and the region, there are a few similar concepts in the global market, however, Airlift plans to be the first in the mobility domain driven by the notion of democratising autonomy and technology with the motto ‘Robotics, Delivered’ to unlock the value of autonomous systems for industries. The development of Core platform started two years back. “We always believed that the future lies in employing robotics and AI for augmentation of mankind. With the enthusiasm witnessed from the local authorities towards adopting cutting edge technology, we believe that it’ll take less than two years to seeing Core and other self-driving companies operating in Qatar,” maintained, Mohamedali. Core is designed to comply with EU Regulation No. 168/2013 and international standards for vehicle safety and integrity such as ISO 26262. “Demand is growing for self-driving delivery vehicles. We aim to introduce 100 vehicles to the market by 2022 both in Qatar and around Europe. With our partners, we’re studying many modes of delivery, each is suitable for a specific category. Currently, we’re considering e-commerce parcels such as fashion, electronics and home products,” he pointed out. The current model of vehicle has a range of 70 km per each charge. “We are working to increase this range with the new model coming soon. During testing, we noticed people getting curious around the vehicle which represents a minor challenge during operation. However we're confident in the engineering and have added safety layers that'll prevent any issues,” highlighted, Airlift general manager. “Our customers are service operators, last mile delivery service providers and shared mobility operators. End user is the consumer using on-demand delivery and shared mobility platforms. As a company, our vision is to pioneer the light weight autonomy market with efficient and sustainable innovations,” added the official.

Dr Hassan al-Derhamrnrn
Universities should be ready to face challenges posed by Covid-19: QU president

Universities of the future should be ‘resilient and agile’ to face the challenges posed by Covid-19, as the pandemic brings a number of challenges as well as opportunities, a top Qatari academic told an online panel discussion on Wednesday. "The future of higher education will depend if the present crisis is a single one or a series of waves. There are several academic challenges. Our campuses could be online campuses or blended leaning campuses,” said Dr Hassan Rashid al-Derham, president of Qatar University. He was speaking at the latest edition of Qatar Foundation’s Education City Speaker Series. Organised in partnership with Education Above All and Qatar Foundation’s World Innovation Summit for Education, the event also featured several education experts from around the world. Dr al-Derham highlighted that Covid-19 has caused several drastic changes and the role of Information technology will be very dominant in the coming times. “Data gathering and analysis will be more important and at the same time more problematic. Data gathering will be through devices such as mobiles and it will involve questions about privacy and data security,” he continued. QU president also said that student experience will be another major challenge in the higher education scenario. “Financial security for higher studies will be a major issue due to the prevailing situation of Covid-19. Many families are facing financial difficulties due to loss of jobs as well as unemployment. With the governments focusing more fighting the pandemic, there is growing financial pressure on governments. With lesser income, students will find it difficult to enter universities for higher studies This could lead to the closure several campuses. There are reports that in the US alone, about 100 campuses are going to be closed,” noted Dr al-Derham. The academic also maintained that there will be a shift in the programmes that the students will follow in the coming years. “We will see great shift in the majors followed at universities. Students will shift to subjects related to Covid-19 and its aftermath. Technology also will change with video conferencing as well as tele-medicine among others. Telepresence, campus automation virtual world among others will be the new norms. Waves of changes are taking place in a much shorter period. All these bring the challenges whether our campuses are accessible to these or there are limitations for our campuses and universities must be ready to adapt to the changing realities and meet the challenges quickly,” added the official.

Al-Ahli Hospital officials display the working of the elevators.  PICTURES: Shemeer Rasheedrn
Al-Ahli Hospital develops 'Qatar’s first' smart elevator service

Al-Ahli Hospital has developed a technology to limit the infection transmission and stop the spread of Covid-19 by converting all the hospital elevators to infrared elevators, thereby avoiding the need to touch any buttons to provide commands. “This is the first such system in Qatar as of now,” said Ammar Annatashi, chief operations officer, Al-Ahli Hospital, during a media interaction on Tuesday. “The whole system, right from concept design and fabrication, was developed by our expert technology team. Our engineering division has been at the forefront of developing the whole plan. We are planning to introduce the same service at our Wakra facility too very soon,” continued Annatashi. Jehad Rihan, chief facility maintenance engineer of the hospital, was also present during the media briefing. The elevators work without touching as they receive the signals remotely. A small control panel receives the command and its light turns from blue to green when a guest points his fingers to it while giving the command to call the elevator and move from one floor to another. Jamal Hammad, deputy CEO and director of projects at Al-Ahli Hospital, said they are keen to ensure a "very high level of quality and achieve global standards for the safety and security of internal guests and visitors". “That is why we have been keen, since the beginning of the establishment and urban planning of the Al-Ahli Hospital building, to be designed in a way that ensures the prevention of acquired infection in hospitals by introducing the ventilation system, positive air pressure in operating rooms and negative air pressure in isolation rooms to prevent infection transmission to the patient as much as possible,” he explained. He thanked the whole family of Al-Ahli Hospital for implementing the project, especially the departments of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, which were able, despite the scarcity of resources, to present this initiative in co-ordination with the management and implement it quickly. He also pointed out that the infection rate at Al-Ahli Hospital has dropped to 1%, and this is much lower than the international level, which is 5% in the best international hospitals. He added that Al-Ahli Hospital uses ultraviolet filters and other tests that detect the presence of bacteria and viruses, helping t eliminate them and maintain a clean and safe environment.

Dr Buthaina al-Owainatirnrn
QF expert advises expectant mothers with diabetes against Covid-19

People with chronic health conditions are highly prone to developing severe complications with Covid-19 and diabetic pregnant women who have contracted the virus are in this high risk category, according to an expert on diabetes. “Pregnant women in general require special care as their bodies are working at highest capacity to provide the necessary nutrition for the growth and development of a healthy baby,” said, Dr Buthaina al-Owainati, a member of Qatar Foundation’s Qatar Diabetes Association, and a senior consultant of endocrinology at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Throughout the pregnancy, the immune system of an expectant mother is compromised to preserve the baby’s health. And for pregnant women with diabetes mellitus – whether diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 before pregnancy or discovered during pregnancy – the situation could be far more alarming, she said. Dr al-Owainati highlighted that all diabetic pregnant women need to follow a certain protocols such as frequent testing for their blood sugar with frequent visit for their Antenatal Care with a multidisciplinary team care; following a healthy and balanced diet that ensures the baby gets all the necessary nutrition and the mother as well in order to compensate for the baby’s additional needs; and keeping blood sugar under control with the help of doctors while exercising moderately depending on the pregnancy status. And as the world is battling against Covid-19, the situation becomes even more perilous. “In cases where diabetic pregnant women have contracted Covid-19, and their symptoms are mild to moderate, their treatment is usually conducted by conservative management. But for those who show moderate to severe symptoms, such as pneumonia, treatment is usually modified according to a special protocol developed by the infectious diseases team at HMC,” Dr al-Owainati explained. The course of pregnancy often does not get affected by Covid-19 unless the pregnant patient has severe symptoms like cough or fever resulting in premature rupture of membrane or bleeding. “So, to give a clearer image, a Covid-19 infection is not an indication for termination of pregnancy,” Dr al-Owainati clarified. And even if not infected by Covid-19, Dr al-Owainati says that in order to have a healthy pregnancy for a diabetic woman, taking care of her mental health and wellbeing is critical. “The risk factor can cause more stress and anxiety to the mother-to-be, which should be dealt with in order to preserve the immune system and help it perform at best during this critical period. Family support plays an essential role in helping to reduce stress levels. In clinical visits, we usually advise the partner to take over the responsibilities of the house,” she added.