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Minister of Public Health Opens A Healthy City for Children Symposium 

Publication Date:
31 October 2019
Primary News

Her Excellency Dr. Hanan Mohammed Al-Kuwari, Minister of Public Health, opened today a symposium titled "A Healthy City for Children", in the attendance of HE Dr. Mohamed Abdul Wahed Ali Al-Hammadi, Minister of Education and Higher Education.

The symposium was organized by the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), in collaboration with the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), and was attended by local and international experts, health sector participants, and university students.

The seminar showcased key local, regional and international plans, initiatives and experiences for innovation and the development of an action plan for a healthy city for children in Qatar and focused on addressing childhood obesity in the urban environment.

Dr. Hanan Mohammed Al-Kuwari, Minister of Public Health, said that based on Qatar's National Vision 2030, the Ministry of Public Health and its partners are working to build sustainable projects that will contribute to a long-term healthy life for current and future generations.

In a statement on this occasion, Her Excellency explained that the symposium covers two national priorities in the National Health Strategy 2018-2022; "Health in All Policies" and "Healthy Children and Adolescents". She noted that Qatar is seeking to acquire the World Health Organization (WHO) Healthy City Accreditation by 2022 which will provide sustainable and healthier options for the population, especially children.

She stressed that the implementation of the Healthy Cities approach aims to ensure that there are appropriate environments in the cities of Qatar that support and promote health. She also stressed on the critical importance of promoting joint work with all MoPH’s partners from different sectors to achieve this goal.

During the ceremony, a short film, produced especially for the event by Qatar Foundation, was screened showing the most important sustainable benefits of a healthy city for children, in which a number of young stars from Qatar Academy schools embodied the vision of a healthy city and the benefits to be achieved for generations to come.

In the opening speech, Dr. Salih Ali Al-Marri, Assistant Minister for Health Affairs at the Ministry of Public Health, explained that the contribution of medical care to better health outcomes is about (10 to 20%). The remaining 80-90% is determined by health-related, socio-economic and environmental factors. Dr. Al-Marri noted that the National Health Strategy has identified "Health in All Policies" as a national health priority and has developed concrete plans and objectives to ensure an intersectoral collaborative approach to improving health and equity for Qatar’s population.

Dr. Al Marri also maintained that obesity is a local and global problem that that calls for intensifying efforts in Qatar to combat it, especially among children, adding that combating obesity requires a complex mix of policies to be put in place, as well as the strong collaboration between different sectors in the country. He reviewed number of significant achievements in this regard, such as the recently-introduced Excise tax on carbonated drinks, the Echo school scheme, the establishment of Musheireb city and the Qatar Railways Company (Qatar Rail) with its sustainable solutions.

Ms. Sultana Afdal, CEO of the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), explained that based on WISH's vision of creating a healthier world by promoting global collaboration, it is important that people from across different sectors work together. She added that she was pleased to work with the Ministry of Public Health to deliver this event and to highlight innovative initiatives and programs in this field locally and globally.

She said: “By thinking about how the urban environment can impact children’s health and wellbeing, we can develop settings within which our children are able to grow, live, work and play to the best of their potential.”

Dr. Sadria Al-Kohji, priority leader of "Healthy Children and Adolescents" in the National Health Strategy, explained that childhood obesity is one of the main challenges facing Qatar, with statistics showing that 18.8% of males and 15.5% of females under 20 suffer from obesity.

She also noted that through the National Health Strategy, several important initiatives that aims at promoting a healthy and safe environment for children and adolescents are being implemented. These initiatives contribute to improving children and adolescent’s well-being and supporting them for a healthier life, particularly by promoting healthy dietary behaviour and lifestyles. She explained that healthy cities approach supports our strategic objectives which we seek to achieve for children and adolescents.

During the seminar, regional and international experiences in the field of healthy cities were reviewed. Mr. Erion Veliaj, Mayor of Tirana in the Republic of Albania, reviewed the experience of the Albanian capital of Tirana. In addition, Professor Peter Bergsten of Uppsala University in the Kingdom of Sweden, reviewed the experience of Sweden. Dr. Amal Al Yahya, Head of Healthy Cities at the Ministry of Health in Kuwait, spoke about Kuwait’s experience, and Dr. Huda Al-Siyabi, Director of Community Initiatives at the Ministry of Health in Oman, reviewed Oman's experience.

The symposium included two key panel discussions under the following themes: “The challenges of combating childhood obesity at the city level: reflections on international experiences", and " Vision for a healthy city in Qatar: solutions, sustainability and commitments" with the participation of local and international officials and experts. 

Furthermore, two workshops were held: ‘Health policy: polices needed
for healthy city for children’ and ‘Health curricula: the role of schools in education and the provision of healthy food and drink to healthy children’. 

It is worth mentioning that a healthy city is one that is continually creating and improving those physical and social environments and expanding those community resources which enable people to support each other in performing all the functions of life and developing to their maximum potential. The "Health in All Policies" approach will offer healthy choices and make our cities more child-friendly environment.

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