Qatar University’s (QU) Health Interprofessional Education Committee in collaboration with the Interprofessional Education Students’ Association in Qatar organised its second virtual debate with the motion: This house believes that, in public health emergencies, the necessity to protect the public should outweigh personal freedoms.

The two-hour event, conducted online through Qatar University WebEx application, was attended by around 200 local and international participants. Layan Sukik, vice-president of the IPE student association and a senior human nutrition student at the College of Health Sciences (CHS) in QU, gave the opening remarks, which included an overview of the association’s vision, mission, and events.

Dr Mohamed Diab, dean, College of Pharmacy (CPH) at QU, welcomed attendees, followed an address by CPH assistant dean for Student Affairs and QU Health Chair of the Interprofessional Education Committee Dr. Alla El Awaisi. The debate was moderated by the president of the IPE Student Association and pharmacy MSc graduate Sawsan AlMukdad.

Members of the affirmative side included the following students: Menatalla Said from QU College of Medicine (CMED), Jawaher Matiullah from University of Calgary - Qatar (UCQ) and student, and Hala Alkhatib from CPH. The negative team included Aishat Akomolafe from CMED, Yasmin Attia (CHS), and Kaoutar Barakat (CPH).

The debate followed a format where each student was given a 5-minute speech, a 2-minute caucus and a chance for a cross examination from the opposing team. The audience were allowed to ask questions directed to the teams after the debate and the judges provided their feedback and asked question to both teams at the end.

The winning team was determined after receiving the votes from both the audience (50%) and the judges (50%). The judges included: Dr Deborah White, UCQ dean; Dr Lily O'Hara, CHS associate professor and IPEC lead; and Dr Ahmad Awaisu, CPH associate professor and head of Clinical Pharmacy & Practice Department. The negative team was the winner.

CPH dean Dr Diab commented: “Qatar University has significantly invested in developing Interprofessional education (IPE) locally and regionally and has moved a great way forward towards its advancement starting with hosting the first Middle Eastern conference on IPE to hosting the “All Together Better Health” international conference in 2021. IPE came to the core of QU health vision and mission of being recognized for excellence in interprofessional health education and interdisciplinary health research. Through their high-quality interdisciplinary programmes, member colleges prepare competent graduates capable of shaping the future of healthcare in Qatar.”

As each side comprises an interprofessional team, the debate contest opened an opportunity to see the perspectives of various healthcare students and allowed the participants to increase their knowledge on the different issues concerning the novel coronavirus that is currently affecting the lives of everyone around the globe through reliable data and evidence-based research.

CHS student Yasmin Attieh from the negative team said: “Having this virtual debate was a brilliant idea and an amazing opportunity, especially during these times, since it allowed us to interact with students from different health professions and work together on topics related to the current situation the world is living in. So not only it was a great fun activity, it also allowed us to look for and discover new dimensions of the pandemic.”

CMED student Menatallah Said from the affirmative team commented: “As responsible individuals each one of us has to pay the cost during a public health emergency to protect the greatest interest even if it requires us to give up on some personal freedoms, since prevention is better than cure.”

The vice-president of IPE, Layan Sukik, mentioned: “This debate gathered students from different health disciplines and helped the manifestation of their collaboration. The way the teams presented their evidence was in harmony and their work was coherent. I am very proud of the students’ commitment and dedication in presenting their viewpoints, along with their persuasive and convincing manner. I am pleased to help unite students from various health professions to work together especially during this time of a pandemic, which will hopefully prepare them to work inter-professionally in their future careers.”

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