*Participants call for greater international collaboration to combat Covid-19

Saluting healthcare workers in Qatar and all over the world for their outstanding efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, Qatar Foundation (QF) chairperson Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, opened on Sunday the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) 2020, held under the theme ‘One World, Our Health’.
The 2020 summit of QF’s global healthcare initiative got off to a great start with a socially distanced opening ceremony. Along with HH Sheikha Moza, QF vice chairperson and CEO HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, HE the Minister of Public Health Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari, WISH executive chair Prof the Lord Darzi of Denham as well as several other dignitaries took part in the event.
“In the midst of these trying times brought on by the pandemic, WISH is convening this year to elevate our sense of collective responsibility and unite the world as one – to work together, to share knowledge, to contain this pandemic and to minimise the damage until it is possible for scientists and researchers to restore health security for people everywhere,” said Sheikha Moza in her opening speech.
“And so, I salute healthcare workers in Qatar, and globally, for their tremendous efforts in fighting this pandemic, protecting lives, and tirelessly striving to create a better, healthier world,” she added.
Highlighting the importance of international healthcare collaboration in the context of Covid-19 Prof the Lord Darzi noted, “The virus has taught us that there can be no security without health security. That’s why I believe it’s time to build a ‘global pathogen shield’ to protect us from novel diseases: a new, global capability to rapidly develop diagnostics, therapies, and vaccines. The only way to do that is through greater international collaboration – which is exactly what WISH is all about.
“The virus may have stopped WISH participants from meeting in person in Doha, but it has not stopped WISH. In so many ways, the pandemic has revealed the best of us,” he added.
Giving an overview of Qatar’s fight against Covid-19 and highlighting Qatar’s national response to Covid-19, which has seen the pandemic stabilise in the country, Dr al-Kuwari noted, “Every death is a tragedy, but we are thankful that our cases, in global terms, remain low. This stands as testimony to the talent and commitment of our doctors and nurses and the entire healthcare workforce.”
“A key factor in our success is our system of universal health coverage. All costs of treatment were covered by the government, irrespective of nationality or social conditions. All patients received the same high standard of care. Our low mortality is attributable to a variety of factors, including the young average age of the population, but particularly to the high quality of medical care, provided equally to everyone. Throughout we strived to keep our healthcare workforce safe and protected and our hospital acquired infections as close to zero as possible,” she explained.
Expressing optimism and determination, Dr al-Kuwari said: “We know we will win this battle only if everyone wins it. In solidarity, Qatar has so far helped more than 70 countries and international organisations with equipment and resources.
“Covid-19 is not beaten yet. Our strategy remains one of vigilance and focused action tempered by a controlled return to normality, while keeping our people safe. We await, with the rest of the world, the development of a safe, effective vaccine. In the meantime, we must rely on the public health measures with which we are all familiar and the dedication and professionalism of the global health workforce to keep us safe.”
The summit attendees also received a special message from Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), as he stressed the importance of harnessing the power of innovation in the face of once-in-a-century-crisis that is this pandemic.
“Over 200 vaccines are being developed in several countries around the world. Some of them have completed different stages of human trial and waiting for the approvals. This really gives great hope for all,” he highlighted.
As part of the WISH 2020 opening ceremony, broadcaster Mishal Husain moderated a high-level panel, The Global Response to Covid-19: What Have We Learned and Where Are We Headed, which heard from international and national leaders including Dr David Nabarro, WHO Special Envoy on Covid-19; Prof Dame Sally Davies, England’s former chief medical officer; and Dr Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist.
WISH 2020 continues until November 19 with the participation of a record number of policymakers, health experts, and frontline healthcare workers.
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