Qatar successfully organised international health summit despite Saudi-led siege, says Lord Darzi

30th Nov 2018
Qatar successfully organised international health summit despite Saudi-led siege, says Lord Darzi

Lord Darzi of Denham, Executive Chair of World Innovation Summit for Health delivers opening speech (Photo: Ahmed J Versi/Muslim News)

Ahmed J Versi in Doha

A record number of policymakers, health experts, and government ministers attended the fourth World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) summit in Doha, Qatar, which attracted over 2,000 people from over 100 countries. The conference took place on November 13 and 14.

In his welcoming speech, Lord Darzi of Denham, Executive Chair of WISH, said the gathering is “an opportunity to confront the biggest challenges facing our health systems globally. Our distinguished speakers will share their experiences, and propose strategies to overcome the most urgent healthcare issues.

“Our community shares a goal of building a healthier society, and I am confident that the connections forged here at WISH 2018 will result in innovative solutions that will influence community shares a goal of building a healthier society”, and added that the discussions in the conference would result in “innovative solutions that will influence healthcare policies around the world for many years to come.”

Talking about the challenges faced by WISH 2018 to organise the conference just after Saudi-led siege against Qatar began in June last year, Lord Darzi said Qatar responded to the siege by “becoming more open to the world” and that “normal life goes on”.

“Qatar has faced attempts to isolate it and insisted that it be more open than it was in the past, and even cancelled the requirement of an entry visa to citizens of more than 80 countries around the world,” he added.

The Government continued to provide healthcare services and infrastructure development. “Investment in healthcare and activities in other sectors continue, all of which are positive indicators of healthcare performance in the country, he said. The keynote speech on November 13 was delivered by David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC). He announced IRC’s proposals to treat global malnutrition.

“Acute malnutrition at such a young, critical age can permanently impair long-term cognitive and physical development. Additionally, malnutrition increases the risk of infection due to impaired functioning of the immune system, which can compound these cognitive and physical development problems.

So, this isn’t just about the health and safety of children right now, this is about preventing malnutrition from robbing children the opportunity to live full, healthy, productive lives.”

The UK’s former Foreign Secretary also spoke of the vital need to invest in finding “innovative and effective ways to deal with humanitarian crises at a time when more and more people are in desperate situations and are calling upon his organisation for help.”

Other keynote addresses were given by record-breaking Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who shared a personal perspective on handling mental health challenges, and Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland, who focussed on the effect of climate change on health.

Panel discussions at the conference explored healthcare topics in depth.

Subjects discussed included Eye Health, Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, Mental Trauma, Nursing and Universal Health Coverage, Anxiety and Depression, Design in Health; Healthcare in Conflict Zones, Islamic Ethics and Palliative Care, the Role of the Private Sector in Healthcare, and Viral Hepatitis.

WISH is a global healthcare community dedicated to capturing and disseminating the best evidence-based ideas and practices.

WISH is an initiative of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development and is under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, its Chair.

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