World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), a global healthcare initiative of Qatar Foundation, is engaged in a major research on Covid-19 with plans for an extensive discussion in its upcoming global summit from November 16-18 in Doha, Gulf Times has learnt.
“In response to the pandemic, we are not only involved in research but also in a number of community outreach activities that aim to help people cope better with the current situation, Sultana Afdhal, CEO, WISH has revealed.
The 2020 WISH summit could be one of the first global major forums to discuss the pandemic in detail.
“WISH is currently working on two key research reports on ‘Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Toxic Stress in Children and Mental Health and Digital Technologies.’ to be presented at WISH 2020 summit. Both reports will include special sections on Covid-19 that explore the effects of the pandemic on children’s mental health and other key questions, such as ‘What has COVID-19 crisis exposed around the mental healthcare response in your country?” explained the CEO.
“We have developed a survey, in English and Arabic, in collaboration with Qatar Biomedical Research Institute and Qatar Autism Society. Currently under approval, the exercise aims to study the impact of the pandemic on autistic children and their families and find out how they are coping with the situation. We want to understand the effect of the lockdown, how daily lives of these children and their families have changed, how their mental health has been affected, what access they now have to educational or therapeutic activities, and what the mental healthcare support they need,” continued, Afdhal.
“Additionally, we are working with our stakeholders in the community to provide educational games to families with children and young adults with autism. At a time when access to specialised services might be limited, it is important to do all that we can to help provide light relief for families,” she noted.
Afdhal also said that WISH had recently presented an online talk on how to stay mentally healthy during this time of Covid-19 worry. “The talk included recommendations and advice based on Unicef’s five-point strategy for coping with restrictions because of the pandemic and discussed how to stay positive and mentally healthy during this stressful time. It was an interactive session, and we were glad that so many people asked questions about practical ways to help them cope with the situation,” she pointed out.
“We are also working on a policy paper on Dementia. One of the areas of focus will be the emergent gaps in healthcare access for individuals with dementia as well as their caregivers in light of the pandemic, utilising a case study to articulate these challenges and propose policy recommendations,” she highlighted.
The official also felt that researching the effects of the current pandemic on the nervous system is a crucial part of strengthening future responses.
“Each experience has yielded ever more important data and data collection methods that have shaped the responses of future generations to similar outbreaks, so that they can be better managed. Research outcomes will play a vital role in building those parts of the health system that provide specific mental health therapy and treatment to those affected by the pandemic, as well as informing policy makers’ decisions during the design of healthcare systems around mental health,” she maintained.
According to the WISH CEO the speed of the spread of the Covid-19 virus was a shock to global healthcare systems.
“Any country had not faced such a situation except for 1918 flu. But Qatar took the decision early on to build temporary hospitals to provide the necessary capacity. Some of these, for example, the Umm Salal and Industrial area temporary hospitals, will now remain to serve during any future outbreaks. The experiences of countries that have faced previous pandemics, such as Sars in Asia and Ebola in Africa, and learned how to be better prepared for them, have shown that having infrastructure already in place for extra capacity is a successful tactic in managing infectious diseases on a large scale,” she added.