Monday, December 11, 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.
WCM-Q's Class of 2023 with the dignitaries at the graduation ceremony Tuesday (supplied picture).
WCM-Q celebrates graduation of Class of 2023

With Dr Javaid Sheikh, the dean of Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar ( WCM-Q) urging the graduates to “make an iron clad commitment to their own physical and emotional wellness to serve the humanity,” the university celebrated the graduation of 42 young doctors, including 12 Qataris, of the Class of 2023 Tuesday at Sheraton Doha in a glittering ceremony.The event was attended by Al Faisal Holding chairman HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani, HE the Minister of Education and Higher Education Buthaina bint Ali al-Nuaimi, Ministry of Public Health's Public Health director Sheikh Dr Mohammed bin Hamad al-Thani, Cornell University president Dr Martha Pollack, Weill Cornell Medicine interim dean and interim provost Dr Francis Lee and a number of guests including the family and friends of the graduates._______________________________Read alsoWCM-Q graduates highlight their learning journey______________________________Dr Sheikh stated that Education City is widely regarded as the beacon of intellectual achievements, a hotbed of creativity and destination for the realisation of the dreams of many young people."Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar is proud to be part of this unique enterprise and the scientific renaissance that is blossoming in Qatar which is something to treasure and celebrate. It is therefore a great occasion to celebrate the remarkable leadership of Qatar which has been the guiding force of the Education City,” he told the gathering.Dr Sheikh continued: “Despite the stern challenges posed by the pandemic, you demonstrated determination and steely resolve to continue with your studies – you discovered the spirit of friendship, the power of teamwork, and the ingenuity of new strategies to overcome incredible hurdles. Your burning desire to become truly world-class doctors, to show that medicine is more than just a profession to you – that it is a calling, a dedication to the service of humanity - has been evident to all of us at Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar.”Dr Sheikh also thanked Qatar Foundation Chairperson Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser and Vice Chairperson and CEO HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, along with the leadership of Qatar, for providing the essential support and guidance over many years that enables WCM-Q to produce world-class physicians.Keynote speaker Dr Nigel Pereira, an alumnus of WCM-Q Class of 2010, appealed to the graduates to be empathetic in their interactions. He said: “Remember that you have three sets of families: your family of colleagues that surround you today, your WCM-Q family of mentors, and - most importantly - your own family, who will always support you unconditionally.”The student Arabic address was given by Najla Ali al-Eshaq, and the English address by Jungyoon Jung. Khalifa Bshesh recited from the Holy Qur’an.Associate dean for student affairs Dr Sean Holroyd was the macebearer and associate dean for pre-medical education Dr James Roach the university marshal.The graduating class comprises of 23 women and 19 men, aged between 23 and 28, hailing from 13 different countries: Qatar, Canada, Egypt, India, Iran, Jordan, Korea, Lebanon, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, the UK and the US.Including this year’s graduates, WCM-Q has now produced a total of 546 medical doctors serving patients and pursuing research in leading healthcare institutions in Qatar, the US and all over the world since the college’s inaugural graduation ceremony in 2008.The new doctors will shortly begin the next stage of their careers as they take up residency positions at elite-level healthcare institutions in Qatar and the US, including Hamad Medical Corporation, Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Case Western/University Hospital Cleveland, University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, Massachusetts General Hospital, and New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Centre and Columbia University, among many others.

QRDI Council secretary general Omar Ali al-Ansari and Spanish ambassador Javier Carbajosa Sanchez at the event Tuesday in Doha. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
QRDI Council, CDTI, Spain launch first bilateral innovation collaboration

The Qatar Research, Development, and Innovation (QRDI) Council unveiled the Qatar Spain Innovation Programme (QASIP), a joint venture between Qatar and Spain for research, development, and innovation (RDI) initiatives, in collaboration with the Spanish Centre for the Development of Technology and Innovation (CDTI).The launch of the first bilateral innovation programme in Qatar took place Tuesday, with attendees including Spanish ambassador Javier Carbajosa Sanchez, QRDI Council secretary general Omar Ali al-Ansari, and national and international stakeholders and high-ranking officials from RDI institutions in Qatar.Addressing the gathering, al-Ansari, said: "In May 2022, the QRDI Council signed MoUs with esteemed partners, fostering stronger linkages between Qatar and Spain in technological and science-led innovation as part of His Highness the Amir’s official visit to Spain. An MoU with the Ministry of Science and Innovation and CDTI ere signed."The Qatar Spain Innovation Programme aims to connect Qatari and Spanish businesses to develop cutting-edge solutions, bringing together the brightest minds and innovation talent from both countries."“This collaboration is an excellent example of the robust and friendly bilateral relations between Spain and Qatar. The launch of this programme is the convergence of several factors as the private sectors from both the countries will play the pivotal role in the collaboration. This is a partnership that will lay the foundation of future for many things for the countries,” said ambassador Sanchez.QASIP is a joint funding programme supporting collaborative research and development projects adhering to the highest international standards. The programme invites proposals for joint research and development projects across all fields, prioritising energy, health, resource sustainability, and digital technology. QASIP's primary goal is to bolster innovation led by Qatari companies and attract relevant talent, as well as to foster collaborative projects involving entities from both Qatar and Spain.The funding programme results from a fruitful collaboration between the QRDI Council and CDTI, following a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Qatar and Spain in 2022 to promote joint endeavours in research and innovation. The programme seeks to exchange knowledge and scientific and technological expertise, fortify institutional capacities for the national innovation system, expand the RDI community and technology-based startups, and strengthen innovation partnerships between relevant parties in Qatar and Spain.Entities interested in submitting their proposals may complete their applications on the QRDI Portal from May 26 to September 7, 2023. Initial feedback will be provided by September 21, 2023, with final awards announced in February 2024. Awarded projects will receive joint funding from QRDI Council in Qatar and CDTI in Spain, with each project garnering up to QR 1,500,000 annually for up to three years and utilised exclusively within Qatar.

Omar Ali al-Ansari addressing the QASIP launch event Tuesday. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Qatar 3rd fastest rising country in the Global Innovation Index 2022

Qatar is the third fastest rising country in innovation in the Global Innovation Index of 2022, highlighted a top official Tuesday.“Qatar has gone up several places in the global innovation Index and currently is the third fastest rising country in the global Innovation Index of 2022,” said Omar Ali al-Ansari, secretary general of the QRDI Council. He was speaking to the media on the sidelines of the launch of Qatar-Spain Innovation Programme (QASIP).“This is because Qatar has a lot of the ingredients in place to promote innovation. QRDI provides the strategy and various other supporting agencies play an important role. Agencies such as Qatar Development Bank, Investment Promotion Agency, QSTP, Freezones and the strong academic research institutes play an important role resulting in Qatar becoming a fast rising nation in innovation in the global innovation index,” explained al-Ansari.The official also highlighted that this was the first bilateral innovation programme in Qatar. “It is one of a kind of collaboration and it is the first time such a vehicle is used to incentivise the private sector capability and talent in Qatar,” he continued.“QASIP comes in line with the two Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by Qatar with Spain last year. The MoUs were signed with the Ministry of Innovation and Science as well as with the Centre of Technology Development and Innovation, Spain. We worked with them to translate these programmes into practical programmes as Qatar Spain Innovation programme” pointed out al-Ansari.He stated that the whole point of the bilateral innovation programme is to join the Qatari companies with Spanish companies in the field of innovation to address some of the common challenges of both the countries and shared interest to solve these challenges.“We are doing it by enabling the innovation in the private sector from both the sides to become the spearheads of these programme. We are putting the private sector at the forefront and supporting and incentivising them, pool the resources together and solve the common challenges,” he noted.“We have various challenges where innovation play a major role. It could be food security, water security, precision medicine, energy efficiency among others. So we have a lot of common issues and we will try to solve them through innovation. We are aligning together on the challenges common to both the countries. The private sector can leverage the infrastructure from the academic institutions by making use of their talents and labs or other facilities,” added al-Ansari.

The HMC Bone and Joint Center.
HMC evening clinics to be expanded to cut wait time

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has plans to expand its evening clinic services, a senior official of the organisation has said."We opened the evening clinics last week at the Ambulatory Care Center ( ACC). And, as the second phase of the expansion, we have opened the services at the Bone and Joint Center. We have plans to expand the services at other centres and areas, too, and the decisions will be taken at the appropriate time,” said Nasser al-Naimi, deputy chief, Quality for Centre for Patient Experience and Staff Engagement, and director of Hamad Healthcare Quality Institute, HMC..text-box { float:right; width:450px; padding:10px; border:1pt solid black; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 15px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 20px;}@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {.text-box {width: 65%;}}Appointment booking decentralisedIn order to expedite appointments at various hospitals under Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), a decentralised system has been set up, Nasser al-Naimi, deputy chief, Quality for Centre for Patient Experience and Staff Engagement, and director of Hamad Healthcare Quality Institute, told Qatar TV yesterday. "Each hospital now has its own team for referrals and booking appointments, instead of the earlier centralised facility, and the decentralisation has improved communication with doctors, executives of outpatient clinics and also hospital administration," he explained.The decision was taken after studying the problem of transfers and booking appointments, added al-Naimi.Al-Naimi was speaking to the media on the occasion of the opening of evening clinics at the Bone and Joint Center of HMC Sunday.“We will be expanding the clinics and this is only the beginning of the expansion of evening clinics. HE the Minister of Public Health has taken special interest in the improvement of the services for patients and it will be a continuous process in many areas and specialties,” he noted.“During the first 90 days we expect to serve 10,000 people at ACC while the Bone and Joint Center evening clinics are expected to serve 13,000 during the same period with specialties in orthopaedics. Every week we plan to see 1,000 patients at this centre," he continued.Al-Naimi also said many specialties are in big demand, such as dentistry and physiotherapy, among others, and there are plans to expand the services gradually into all these areas.The official noted that the evening clinics are definitely having an impact in terms of reducing the waiting list of patients. “Serving 1,000 people a week at evening clinics here will have a great impact on cutting the waiting list of patients in these departments. Several people have been waiting for sometime - like four to six months - and it will greatly help reduce the waiting list. It is quite early to see the trend but after one to two months we will publish the real statistics,” he said.Al-Naimi pointed out that one concern is the number of no-shows. “One major concern is in the utilisation of the clinics as we saw at the ACC last week. We had about 20 to 22 no-shows in the clinics. Opening evening clinics is like providing premium services. Somebody not showing up affects everyone and spoils the opportunities of others. So, this week we have done overbooking by 20%. If you have an appointment and are unable to go, please inform the call centre and change or cancel the appointment, so that others can get the benefit," he appealed to patients.Meanwhile, Dr Ahmad Mehzar Alsaadi, orthopaedic specialist at the Bone and Joint Center, said the evening clinics will be operational from Sunday to Wednesday.“We have clinics from Sunday to Wednesday. There are 22 clinics and four of them are specialising in trauma and fractures. Other 18 are sub-specialties in orthopaedics such as spine, paediatrics, oncology, knee and hips, among others. Depending on the number of people and the demand for more services, we will think of expanding the services to other days, too,” Dr Alsaadi added.

Dr Partha Basu speaking at the event. PICTURE: Thajudheen
AI can help in early detection of cancer: experts

Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be the biggest game changer in cancer treatment in the coming years, according to a leading expert in the field.“Like in all spheres of life, AI will be a reality in the early detection of cancer. It will be a boon for low and middle-income countries with an acute shortage of trained staff, while trust and accountability in data sharing are the issues to be resolved,” said Dr Partha Basu, head of the Early Detection, Prevention and Infections Branch at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC/WHO)._____________________________Read also:UDST, QCS hold international conference on cancer screening and prevention_____________________________Meanwhile, Dr Michael Philips, director, Applied Research Innovation and Economic Development Directorate, University of Doha for Science and Technology (UDST), spoke about the role of the university in building capacity for cancer risk reduction and screening through technology.He said: “UDST's research infrastructure and diverse academic programmes contribute to capacity building for cancer risk reduction and screening through technology. As disruptive technologies have significantly impacted cancer treatment, there is a need for greater collaboration with various stakeholders.”Quoting Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, deputy chief medical officer and director of the Department of Medical Education at Hamad Medical Corporation, Dr Philips said there is great potential for the Qatar research community to contribute to global health and national health policy if everyone works collectively.The officials were speaking at the international conference on ‘Technological Innovations for Cancer Screening and Prevention’, organised by UDST in collaboration with Qatar Cancer Society.Explaining the advancements made by technology in medicine and the new developments in cancer treatment, Dr Basu noted that there should not be any biases while dealing with data for AI.“AI has to be applied without any biases. It might increase inequities in healthcare if biases are not addressed appropriately. Many implementation issues need to be considered in making use of the technology,” Dr Basu noted.He also pointed out that AI innovations have to be accelerated to better detect and treat different types of cancer and several such gadgets are already available currently. These all will help fight cancer in a big way.“Most of the works and experiments in AI are going on in Europe, North America and Australia, as these places have invested very heavily in developing AI-based diagnosis. Unfortunately, in most of the Asian or African countries it is not happening. So, we need to come together and form a coalition with anonymous data and images maintaining appropriate laws in data protection. It is a challenge but we are trying to do something,” he stated.Dr Philips pointed out that digital and disruptive technologies are showing the way forward in cancer detection and treatment, and they are being used in healthcare practices across the world.“There are three aspects to be taken note of. One is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, which are making significant impact in the healthcare practices. The second one is the use of 3D printing, which has helped in the diagnosis of diseases in a big way. Finally, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are also major digital tools in healthcare,” he explained.Dr Philips highlighted the recent developments in cancer detection and treatment with the help of AI and the likely upcoming treatment options in cancer treatment such as cancer vaccines. He also spoke about the various research programmes, initiatives and training sessions held by UDST in this regard.

OpEPA aims to build more sustainable communities through nature-based and regenerative education.
2023 WISE Awards finalist takes learning to nature

The Organisation for Environmental Education and Protection (OpEPA), one of the 2023 World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) Awards finalists, is focusing on reconnecting the children and youngsters to the nature to build more sustainable communities.Headquartered in Bogota, Columbia, the OpEPA, has been focusing on this theme since 1998 through nature-based and regenerative education, heritage interpretation and social weaving, with a regenerative approach to cultural, social, economic and environmental dimensions.WISE, the global education initiative of Qatar Foundation, recently announced the 12 finalists for the WISE Awards 2023 and the final six projects will be announced in September. The WISE Awards winners will be celebrated at the global summit to be held in November this year.OpEPA has so far implemented projects and activities in 26 of the 32 departments in the country, in four work fields: nature-based education, nature tourism, regenerative cultures and planetary limits: climate change, biodiversity loss, land and water use.The programme has so far benefited over 140,000 in Columbia with a geographical reach in Columbia, US, Peru, Costa Rica and Chile. It aims to on reconnecting children, youth and people to nature and earth to build more sustainable, regenerative and peaceful communities.The programme has the city-wide Biodivercity Nature-Based Education Networks which are spaces for integration and active collaboration between schools and local actors to appropriate green spaces and create nature-based learning communities. Their origin began in 2015 with the creation of Red de Colegios Cerros de Bogotá, a school network with active collaboration between 101 public and private educational institutions and eight organisation allies. It promotes the appropriation of the Eastern Hills, a strategic ecosystem through Nature-Based Education (NBE).Luis Camargo, founder and director of OpEPA, is working to strengthen bioregional transitions to regenerative cultures. According to the organisation, “We replicated the model with the Ministry of Environment as our implementation partner in 13 'biodivercities' throughout Colombia. In this process, we created 13 city nature-based networks that connected 145 schools and 460 teachers using in-person capacity-building workshops, online education programmes, and network weaving.”The nature-based school networks focuses on consolidating a learning community with citizenship skills that promote harmonising the people and nature relationship, allowing them to become planetary stewards and ensuring social wellbeing. It also favours the positioning of students and teachers as multipliers of good practices and ethical behaviour to face environmental and social challenges.By involving many students from different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds in the city, the network promotes equity and inclusion while developing environmental stewardship skills of students and communities. Furthermore, the network uses the city’s natural ecosystems as a learning environment, where collaborative conservation projects are designed and implemented.The key impact of the project is the activation of diverse learning communities around NBE and the appropriation of green spaces in and surrounding the cities. In the future, OpEPA aim to expand this initiative as the key educational component of the Biodivercities model in Latin America and worldwide. The organisation’s final goal is to activate cities globally to become nature-based learning cities and inspire learning communities to embrace nature as a key learning environment for all subjects.Each year, the WISE Awards recognise and promote six successful and innovative projects that are addressing global educational challenges. Since 2009, WISE has received more than 5,300 applications from over 151 countries. 90 projects have been awarded, from a wide variety of sectors and locations for their innovation, positive contribution and ability to adapt and scale.

Gulf Times
WISE announces 2023 cohort of Wise Emerging Leaders

The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) has announced the 2023 WISE Emerging Leaders (WEL) cohort, comprising 15 women and men from 12 different countries, representing diverse backgrounds and disciplines.Selected fellows include young professionals from organisations from the wider WISE community and social innovators actively engaged in delivering or designing education initiatives within their organisation or networks. The WEL community is now made up of over 70 young leaders in education, with the programme in its fifth consecutive year.Members of the 2023 WEL cohort are: Alejandra Ycaza ( Latin America); Amanda Abrom (US), David Timis (Belgium), Emi Koch (Peru), Guillermo Delso Segovia (Spain), Jazz Sethi (India), Madeleine Ross (Canada), Manshvi Palan (India), Marie Voisin (France); Mohamad Said (Lebanon), Natalie Delille (US), Nyagaki Gichia (Kenya), Zubair Junjunia (UK), Olivia Fossali (UK) and Uriel Kejsefman (Argentina).WEL is a nine-month fellowship programme for the next generation of leaders in education who wish to embark on a learning journey that cultivates the mindsets, skills, and techniques necessary to thrive, nurture communities, and transform education systems. It is now entering its fifth consecutive year.In a time when education is disrupted by multiple crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the burnout epidemic, and the ecological collapse, WISE believes it is ever more important to create stimulating and nourishing spaces for education leaders to come together, connect meaningfully, learn with each other, and collaborate for collective impact. Transforming education systems requires change at the structural and systemic levels, but also at the intrapersonal and interpersonal levels. Leaders who lead with self-awareness, compassion, and creativity, who cultivate their own and their team’s wellbeing, and who weave people and projects together are leaders who can spark innovation and systemic change.The WEL Fellowship brings together 15–20 carefully selected young leaders in education from around the world in a hybrid format consisting of in-person residential sessions, a series of online workshops with education experts, a number of asynchronous reflective blog posts, a concrete project to apply in their organizations, and tailored mentoring support to develop their project.WISE, the global education initiative of Qatar Foundation, will hold its biennial summit in Doha on November 28 and 29 this year.

Hamad al-Kuwari.
Education City tram celebrates millionth passenger

The Education City Tram will start a third line –Green - by the second quarter of 2023, expanding the network’s capacity and routes and connecting several important locations, Gulf Times has learnt.The Education City Tram has so far transported more than one million passengers safely and efficiently to various locations within Qatar Foundation ( QF) since its launch some two and half years ago.The proposed Green line, will include stops such as Sidra Medicine and Qatar National Conventional Centre (QNCC), QF has said in a statement.The Education City Tram is a pioneering transport system that has brought a new form of sustainable travel to Qatar and elevated the nation’s profile as a nerve centre of innovation.“It's a tremendous accomplishment for the tram system to have transported over one million passengers,” said Hamad al-Kuwari, executive director of City Operations at Qatar Foundation (QF).“The fact that the tram network has safely and efficiently transported more than one million passengers demonstrates its effectiveness as a convenient and reliable mode of transportation for many people, while also contributing to the reduction of traffic congestion and air pollution in Education City specifically and in Qatar in general.”“To accommodate the increasing number of passengers now and in the future, the Education City Tram must have efficient scheduling, sufficient infrastructure, effective passenger flow management, regular maintenance, and continuous investment, all of which are essential from an operational standpoint to ensure the system is safe and dependable for its users,” continued al-Kuwari.Aligning with QF’s sustainability goals, the tram network currently has 24 stops across two lines, yellow and blue, connecting various academic campuses and research centres, as well as public spaces like the Green Spine and sporting facilities including the Education City Stadium.The 19 state-of-the-art Avenio trams have an onboard energy-storing system that removes the need for overhead power cables, allowing them to travel from one stop to the next without charging, providing an environmentally friendly alternative for commuters within QF and helping to reduce Education City’s carbon footprint. On average, it carries 3,000 passengers daily.During the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the tram also played a key role in facilitating the fans’ journey to the Education City Stadium, with ridership increasing to an average of 9,000 passengers on match days – with trams arriving at two-minute intervals.Al-Kuwari noted that operating a tram network isn’t free of challenges and called on visitors’ cooperation to keep accidents at bay. “The challenges of operating the tram are handled daily by qualified engineers, yet it requires Education City visitors to join hands with QF’s City Operations to avoid traffic violations in the tram crossing areas on the streets,” he added.Supporting Qatar’s overarching sustainability goals, the tram makes QF a more environmentally friendly, interconnected, and accessible environment, as well as provides a travel option that aims to reduce vehicle use and emissions within and around QF. It gives users new opportunities for social interaction while educating them about the importance of sustainable transport, and the health benefits that result from using alternative modes of travel.

Gulf Times
ICC to launch new initiatives, including portal and job fair

The Indian Cultural Centre (ICC), under the aegis of the Indian embassy in Qatar, is planning to launch several new initiatives, such as setting up a job portal and organising a job fair. Shedding light on these initiatives, ICC president Manikantan A P said at a press conference Saturday: “We will be launching new ICC clubs in various fields, annual competitions for different segments of the community, as well as a job portal and a job fair. We are also planning to launch a mobile application for ICC in addition to a privilege card for ICC members and the members of affiliated organisations."“There are a lot of people looking for jobs and there are employers who are looking for qualified hands to fill in the vacancies in their companies. ICC, through the job portal and job fair, aims to connect the employers and employees, which will benefit each other. Details of the job fair and job portal will be announced after receiving the necessary approvals from various departments,” he explained.The ICC president said the organisation is planning to revamp clubs, such as the Literature, Science and Mathematics, Photography, Students and Environment clubs, to promote quality and artistic renewal. The teams shall work "towards preserving our cultural heritage and showcasing the same towards others", ICC said in a statement.The Literature Clubs will encourage students to study and familiarise themselves with their language, and cultivate interest in them to know more about literature, poetry, and other linguistic applications for specific languages. The Science and Mathematics Club will enable students to know more about innovation, new applications, technological enhancements and scientific research, which will enhance their scientific acumen beyond curricular boundaries.The ICC Photography Club is based on the idea of photographers getting together to share tips, techniques and camaraderie. The main motive of the ICC Film Club is to create a platform for people with the common interest for quality classic films.According to Manikantan, one major initiative will be to conduct competitions and events to reach out to more members of the community in Qatar. “The competitions shall be classified into inter-school competitions for students, inter-affiliated organisations of ICC, and inter-camp competitions for blue collar workers,” he noted.ICC will also be launching a mobile application soon so that the community can get all the updates instantly. “Through the ICC mobile app, we are planning to reach out to the Indian community members to provide all the updates at ICC. Members who download the mobile app will be aware of the consular services and get the updated details of ICC programmes and events,” he concluded.

Officials at the press conference Saturday. PICTURE: Thajudheen
ICC to kickstart 50 years of India-Qatar diplomatic relations with Wednesday Fiesta

The Indian Cultural Centre (ICC), an apex body under the aegis of the embassy of India, will be organising various events as part of the celebration of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Qatar and India.The initiatives include the Wednesday Fiesta and Bharat Utsav 2023.The ICC Wednesday Fiesta will be inaugurated on May 3 by the chargé d'affaires of the Indian embassy, T Angeline Premalatha.“ICC is all set with greater preparations and planning for yet another continuous event to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations between India and Qatar every Wednesday. Many events are being planned and the first such programme will be held on May 3,” said Manikantan A P, president of ICC, Saturday.Manikantan was speaking at a press conference to announce the details of the upcoming events to mark the occasion. He said ICC is resuming the Wednesday Fiesta, which could not be held for a few years due to Covid-19 restrictions.“As part of the celebrations, we will be organising Bharat Utsav 2023 (India Festival) on May 19 at Al Mayassa Theatre, Qatar National Convention Centre. More details of the programme will be disclosed in the coming days,” said Manikantan.Wednesday Fiesta used to be a highly popular event among the Indian community before the pandemic. “We are giving a platform for the community members to perform and everyone is welcome to the event. This is a great occasion for Indian artistes to present their talents and for the community members to enjoy a great cultural fiesta,” explained Manikantan.Pre-event screening of the programmes prepared for the fiesta will be conducted by the relevant authorities at ICC, before the final set is presented to the public.ICC has planned to reach out to the community in a big way, with flyers published in the digital media, press updates and radio announcements. These and social media postings will be used for communicating with and reaching out to Indian families and community members, as well as other communities, to attend and participate in the events.“We are hopeful that the Wednesday Fiesta will set the tone for the 50th anniversary celebrations of diplomatic relations between Qatar and India. It will also provide a great platform to showcase some of the traditional and indigenous art forms of India to the community here in Qatar,” added Manikantan.ICC vice-president Subramanya Hebbagelu, general secretary Mohan Kumar Duraisamy, treasurer Arshad Ali, head of Premises & Social Activities Jaffarkhan M, head of Cultural Activities Sumaa Mahesh Gowda and head of External Events & Activity co-ordinator Gargy Vaidya.

Ahlan Simsim project  aims at providing skills  for early childhood development.
WISE Awards finalist project aims to promote early childhood development

A project that highlights the way forward in providing skills needed for early childhood development, especially in conflict zones, has been shortlisted as one of the finalists of the 2023 World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) Awards.The Ahlan Simsim project that was launched in 2018, with funding from MacArthur and LEGO foundations, Sesame Workshop (SW) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC), aims at improving all domains of early childhood development including social-emotional and academic skills.About 1.2mn children and caregivers are beneficiaries of the programme with a geographical reach across Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Headquartered in New York, IRC’s Mena regional office is located in Amman, Jordan.WISE recently announced the 12 finalists for the WISE Awards 2023 and the final six projects will be announced sometime in September.The WISE Awards winners will be celebrated at the global summit to be held in November this year.The project looks at several places across the Mena region that have been affected by conflict and crisis. Millions of children across the region have been forced to live the most formative years of their lives with displacement, chaos and violence, negatively impacting their intellectual and social-emotional development and threatening long-term economic prosperity, health and well-being.In the context, it is to be noted that early childhood development interventions are crucial in helping children and their families thrive and overcome traumatic experiences.Ahlan Simsim integrates SW’s educational resources, including a TV show, with sustainable and locally owned programme models delivered by IRC and local partners, while strengthening existing national systems.Programmes and services support children and adults around them - from caregivers to service providers; they can be delivered in informal and formal settings, remote and in-person modalities, by IRC, local civil society, and governments.Through a robust learning and advocacy agenda, the project seeks to understand and inform others about the impact of holistic early childhood development programming on children.Ahlan Simsim teams employ various learning methods to measure impact, including evaluations, research and prototyping, content review and cost analysis. It is also collaborating with New York University to evaluate the impact of mass media and programming, and positive outcomes for children will be shared publicly to contribute to understanding what works in early childhood development.The programme is investing in visibility, advocacy, growth and fundraising and designing future programme ideas in current and new geographies. It is focusing on getting the word out about what the initiative is doing with the aim of raising the profile of early childhood development in the humanitarian response and ramping up efforts to influence donors and humanitarian actors to prioritise early childhood development and how it should be done to achieve the best outcomes.Each year, the WISE Awards recognise and promote six successful and innovative projects that are addressing global educational challenges.Since 2009, WISE has received more than 5,300 applications from over 151 countries. So far, 90 projects have been awarded, from a wide variety of sectors and locations for their innovation, positive contribution and ability to adapt and scale. These projects represent a growing resource of expertise and sound educational practice.

Abdulla Kattukandi with wife Ruqya. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Battling adversities with faith, positivity

Indomitable faith in God as well as the grit to fight against adversities has made 63-year-old Indian Abdulla Kattukandi, a quadriplegic for the last 30 years due to an accident, a living example of hope and positivity.“I consider the accident as a gift of God and that has made me what I am today. I was not even a good reader during my earlier life, but started reading after the accident and wrote five books. I am travelling a lot despite my handicap. I thank God for all the blessings in my life,” a joyful Abdulla told Gulf Times.On a private visit to Qatar, Abdulla recollected the accident. “After a short stint in Bahrain for two years, I was doing a small scale business of dried coconut in Kozhikode, Kerala. On May 21, 1993, I was returning home after a business-related visit when a giant tree fell on my vehicle. When I came back to my senses, I did not feel any sensation below my neck and doctors had no hope of me pulling through as my spinal cord was severed.”Abdulla along with his wife Ruqya — the pillar of strength behind his present cheerful life and who accompanies him just like his shadow — is in Qatar to visit his sons who are residents of the country. An alumnus of Farook College, Kozhikode, Abdulla was recently honoured by the old students association of the college in Qatar.His elder son Shaeer Abdulla is an engineer with beIN Sports while his second son Shajir Abdulla, is a dentist. His daughter Ameena Najmal is settled in Kerala.Abdulla remembered that it was a tight rope walk between life and death in the very early days after the accident. “A long struggle and battle followed the accident where I trod a thin line between life and death. For several days, nobody believed that I would survive and even if I did, I would be in a vegetative state. But God’s grace and the strong support from my wife and some intimate friends made me pull through and get back to life.”After the treatment, through regular physiotherapy, things started looking better for Abdulla and he embarked on his second stint of life.“I started reading books and thought of writing something. It took me days to practise writing and even for writing a single letter, it took me minutes. But slowly, I got used to the situation and started penning my first book, Athijivinathinte Pusthakam (The book of survival),” he recalled.Abdulla’s doctors and physiotherapists were surprised to see him writing and encouraged with motivational words.“Later by using mobile phone for typing, it became easier for me and so far I have published five books. My book Prathyashayude Gopuram (The tower of hope) was released at the Sharjah Book Fair and translated to English and Arabic.” Abdulla, who also shares motivational thoughts through his social media platforms, has extensively travelled across India and visited several Gulf countries. The wheelchair-bound individual even hiked the highest peak of a Kerala hill station named Vagamon, which is 1,100m above sea level.“Abdullakka has been a great source of inspiration for me. Whenever, I faced difficulties in my business and life, I recollect the struggle and the challenges he had undergone all these years and immediately I get charged up to start anew,” said Doha-based entrepreneur Shumaiz.Abdulla says his life has been a motivation for several people as they found his books encouraging and his life, a model to be emulated.“A school teacher who got into a bike accident near my place, had to amputate her leg and decided to discontinue her work. After reading my book, she came to meet me and decided to continue her job and presently she is leading a happy life. A couple whose two children were suffering from mental health issues were motivated to face the challenges as they came to know my life example. I am really happy that I am able to motivate many people and lead a happy life,” added Abdulla.

US ambassador Timmy T Davis at the event Sunday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
QF expands autism care as awareness day is marked

Qatar Foundation (QF) is expanding its autism services to all the regions of the country with several initiatives as QF’s Pre-University Education (PUE) organised a family awareness day to mark the World Autism Awareness Day Sunday at Oxygen Park.Renad Academy is one of the main providers of autism services in the country. World Autism Day, marked on April 2, was designated by the UN on the proposal of QF Chairperson Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser.“Now we are launching a programme called Satellite, to support people living in various places such Wakra or Shamal or any other part of the country with a chance to enrol their children for the services of Renad Academy, if needed,” said Khaled Kassab, public relations officer, PUE, QF.“So far the autism services were available only at QF schools. Now we are expanding the programme to the government schools and working with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to help students who are autistic,” he explained.About 23 entities participated in the event, including Renad Academy, Awsaj Academy, The Learning Center, and the Ability Friendly Programme. US Ambassador Timmy T Davis and QF’s SEN Schools executive director Mark David Hughes were among the dignitaries who joined the event to promote autism awareness among the community.“World Autism Day is so important as it is an occasion of making sure that we are supporting young people and helping them with the tools that they need to be successful. There is a lot of research about autism spectrum these days and I think it is to be noted how we need to help these people not just with their needs but also their special talents,” said ambassador Davis.Kassab noted that the event is a community awareness programme about autism. “It will be an annual celebration on the occasion of the World Autism Day. Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, has instructed everyone to help spread awareness about the day and how the autism people can be supported.“There is great demand on autistic services and so we founded the Renad Academy. Now we have a joint venture by Renad Academy, Awsaj Academy, Ability Friendly programme and The Learning Centre to provide special needs services. These four centres are supporting each other and Renad Academy provides special needs services on autism,” stated Kassab.The activities of the day were be divided into three main areas. The entertainment section screened episodes of Siraj – the edutainment TV series that helps children learn the Arabic language in a fun and engaging way – as well as a virtual reality station. The cultural section featured a Majlis area, a workshop space, and an inflatable maze. And the food and beverage area offered multiple refreshment stations, as well as inflatable football games.The World Autism Awareness Day event at Oxygen Park is one of many taking place in April. Other initiatives include QF’s 2015 building being lit in blue until Tuesday and PUE hosting an autism information booth in the 2015 building for three days from Tuesday.

Dr Abdullatif al-Khal
Healthcare systems need to be more resilient against future pandemics: HMC expert

It is highly important for every country and individual to keep enhancing resilience and preparedness in the healthcare sector against any future disasters as the world is entering the Covid-19 post-pandemic era, a senior official of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has stressed.“Disasters such as pandemics are unpredictable and we don’t know if we will have a pandemic in a year or two. So, it is very important that all countries, including Qatar, continue investing in prevention and keep enhancing resilience and preparedness. Otherwise, we will find ourselves in the same square again,” cautioned Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, deputy chief medical officer, HMC.Dr al-Khal was addressing the media on the sidelines of the Middle East Forum on Patient Safety 2023 that took place recently. Resilience in healthcare was the focus of the forum this year and Qatar’s response and resilient approach to the Covid-19 pandemic was a major point of discussion at the forum.Highlighting the need to be vigilant and alert against any outbreak of a pandemic, Dr al-Khal - who is the chairman of the National Pandemic Preparedness Committee - as well as senior consultant, Infectious Diseases and head of Adult Infectious Diseases Division, HMC, noted that humans tend to forget the past events soon.“As human beings, it is easy for us to forget quickly the disasters that we went through and this should not happen. The world should learn and remember what all the countries across the globe went through in terms of suffering and pain because of Covid-19. This must be a learning lesson for the international community and everyone must work and be focused on avoiding such disasters again,” explained Dr al-Khal.The official also highlighted that "we should always keep up the response and preparedness against any future eventuality". “There should never be any lack of preparedness. Whatever strength, whatever resilience and whatever capacity that is in place is always needed to face such disasters. We should all be more focused and we should bear in mind the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic. Every country should make sure that the response to the pandemic should actually continue,” added Dr al-Khal.

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.