Doha, 2 November 2019: Qatar has demonstrated its commitment to enhancing the care of medical and other holistic healthcare needs of the elderly with the first Qatar International Geriatric and Gerontology Conference, which commenced on Thursday, 31 October 2019.
Her Excellency Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, the Minister of Public Health, and other ministerial dignitaries who attended the opening ceremony, reaffirmed their commitment to support the goals for ‘Healthy Ageing’ set out in the National Health Strategy 2018 - 2022.
“Older adults aged 60 and above contribute to the rich fabric of our society and it is incumbent on all of us to recognize them as a valuable resource. We also need to be aware of their changing health and well-being needs,” said Her Excellency Dr. Al Kuwari.
“Our culture embraces protecting the dignity of our older population; we need to embrace different approaches to support their independence and to harness their contributions to society. This inter-professional conference is an important component in enhancing the knowledge and skills of our professional workforce and it complements the many other activities that our teams engage in across the public and private sectors to foster a greater understanding of the meaning of ‘healthy ageing’,” added Her Excellency Dr. Al Kuwari.
The Ministry of Public Health, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and the British Geriatrics Society (BGS) jointly hosted the event, which saw over 600 attendees over three days. The conference chairperson is Dr. Hanadi Khamis Al Hamad, Medical Director of Rumailah Hospital and the Qatar Rehabilitation Institute and FACP Chairperson of Geriatrics and Long Term Care Department at HMC; she is also the NHS-2 National Lead for Healthy Ageing for the Qatar Ministry of Public Health and the focal point for the elderly in the State of Qatar.
“This conference is the culmination of concerted efforts from many teams, and was made possible through support from the Ministry of Public Health and many other stakeholders in Qatar. I am also delighted that the British Geriatrics Society have collaborated with us and have shared their wealth of experience and knowledge in the care and treatment of older populations,” said Dr. Al Hamad. “We have 42 local and international presenters sharing their expertise on topics including 1. Advanced care plan and patient dignity, 2. Dementia, 3. Frailty and co-morbidities, 4. Early rehabilitation and preventing de-conditioning, and 5. Promoting Wellbeing.”
The Center for Elderly Empowerment & Care (Ehsan), a non-governmental organization under the umbrella of Qatar Foundation for Social Work (QFSW), was a strategic sponsor of the event. Ms. Amal Al Mannai, CEO of QFSW, remarked during the opening ceremony about the importance of partnerships to support the integrated care approach for older persons.
“Our vision is to empower our older population and help them enjoy a safe and productive life, which aligns with Qatar Foundation for Social Work’s goals to provide them with proper services while encouraging their full integration and active participation in society,” said Ms. Al Mannai. “We collaborate closely with local healthcare partners to spread social awareness of older person’s fundamental rights and issues as well as provide practical healthcare information for older persons, their families and caregivers. Encouraging more dialogue with different stakeholders is the foundation for establishing Qatar as an ‘age friendly’ nation that is dedicated to include the principles of both healthy and active ageing to ensure a healthy, robust and active society for all ages.”
Mr. Mubarak bin Abdulaziz Al Khalifa, Executive Director of the Center for Elderly Empowerment & Care expressed Ehsan’s keen interest to participate in the conference. “Ehsan is one of the leading providers of social empowerment and care services for older persons in Qatar. We are delighted to participate in this conference and collaborate with other stakeholders in Qatar to discuss all issues related to enhancing service provision for older persons and improving their quality”.
The British Geriatrics Society tries to promote developments in Geriatric Medicine across the globe and has had established ties to HMC, collaborating in areas of education and training. Professor Tahir Masud, President of the British Geriatrics Society explained the fact that people are living longer is something to be celebrated.
“As our healthcare and lifestyle provisions improve, we have more older people making up a key segment of society. This demographic trend does mean however that chronic conditions such as frailty, dementia, sarcopenia, reduced mobility and falls are becoming more prevalent and how we deal with such issues will increasingly become one of the greatest challenges of our time. This conference provides an excellent opportunity for healthcare professionals to learn from others, and present their research and service developments. The ultimate aim of the congress is to improve the care of our older patients by improving education to those who provide healthcare.”
HMC and Primary Health Care Corporation have made major strides in delivering integrated care and specialist services to older adults. This includes expanding existing residential facilities, such as the Enaya Specialized Care Centers, as well as multi-disciplinary home healthcare service, which deliver essential care to thousands of residents in communities across Qatar.