Al Shafallah Center and the Francois Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard Chan School of Public Health, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) during the Doha International Conference on Disability and Development.

The MOU aims to increase cooperation between the two organisations and help them achieve their common objectives through a sustainable, field-tested framework, providing a rights-based approach to intellectual disability services. The agreement also aims to strengthen the capacity of regional and national stakeholders through a sustained, rights-based programme of care and treatment for children and young people with intellectual and mental health disabilities.

As part of the programme, a model will be established to evaluate the existing approach to care for children and young people with intellectual and mental health disabilities. The model aims to improve the human rights and well-being of people with disabilities, paying special attention to the family support network and outreach and community services.

The project will lead to the development of a rights-based best-practice approach to the care, treatment and diagnosis of children and young people with intellectual and mental health disabilities; a sophisticated understanding of factors that are specific to the MENA region; and a sustainable model of care that can serve as a ‘centre of excellence’ to transform working practices and make a positive impact throughout the region.

QFSW CEO Amal Abdullatif Al Mannai highlighted the importance of the agreement. She said that their agreement with Harvard University underscores the commitment of Qatar civil society organisations to improve the lives of people affected by intellectual and mental health disabilities.

This agreement provides the framework to develop new and innovative approaches, leading to advances that will transform the level of care and treatment in Qatar and throughout the region.’

HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Founder of QFSW, founded the Al Shafallah Center in 1999. The centre provides first-class educational and rehabilitation services for people under the age of 21 with mental disabilities and autism.

Harvard University is devoted to excellence in teaching, learning and research, and to developing leaders in many disciplines.