HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, attended an event marking the official designation of a research group at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for combating COVID-19 and other selected infectious diseases in the region.

WHO Collaborating Centre at WCM-Q 3
HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser (right), HE Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari and Dr Javaid Sheikh with ‘Pepper’ the robot.

Under the new designation, the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Group (IDEG) at WCM-Q will support WHO’s regional and global efforts to promote health and well-being by providing scientific research and advice to inform policy decisions and public health programmes in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR).

Led by Dr Laith Abu-Raddad, WCM-Q professor of infectious disease epidemiology, IDEG has a special focus on viral hepatitis, which is especially prevalent in EMR countries and is one of the leading causes of deaths globally. The group contributed to efforts in fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS, reproductive tract infections, and more recently, COVID-19.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, IDEG has spearheaded WCM-Q’s efforts, working closely with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in Qatar and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) as they control the spread of infection, working with healthcare and policy experts to provide scientific technical analyses that support the national response against COVID-19.

HE Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health and Managing Director of HMC said that members of IDEG are doing fantastic work with senior experts and officials in the ministry and at HMC, minimising the spread of coronavirus in Qatar. She said that being awarded WHO Collaborating Centre status is a huge achievement, and further strengthens Qatar’s ability to fight infectious diseases that affect communities all over the EMR region and beyond.

This official designation demonstrates the success of Qatar’s investment in the healthcare and research sectors, and reinforces Qatar’s contribution to public health on a global level. On behalf of the health sector, I would like to thank Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser for her vision and leadership in creating a culture of research excellence in Qatar Foundation and in WCM-Q.

Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for Eastern Mediterranean, said that the designation of IDEG as a WHO Collaborating Centre recognises more than a decade of collaboration in the field of infectious diseases and provides a formal framework for future joint activities. He said that collaborating centres such as IDEG are critical partners to achieve Vision 2023 and the goal ‘Health For All, By All’.

The Collaborating Centre could also play an important role in support of another important joint initiative between WHO and the Qatar Fund For Development in addressing emergencies, including infectious diseases such as COVID-19, and the provision of essential health services in selected countries of the region.

I would like to commend the high-level political support by the State of Qatar and the farsighted leadership of Qatar Foundation and the Ministry of Public Health, which have made these strategic partnerships and investments for global health possible.

IDEG lead Dr Abu-Raddad, who also holds the position of Assistant Dean for Extramural Research Funding and Director of the Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Biomathematics Research Core at WCM-Q, and one of the region’s leading epidemiologists said it is very gratifying to receive the honourable designation from WHO.

WCM-Q Dean Dr Javaid Sheikh said that everyone at WCM-Q are extremely proud of the excellent work of IDEG.

This honour demonstrates the global impact of the scientific capacity and infrastructure that has been built in Qatar with the support of Qatar Foundation. I offer my warmest thanks to Her Excellency Dr Hanan Al Kuwari and other esteemed colleagues at the Ministry of Public Health and the World Health Organization for giving us the opportunity to work with them to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and other infectious diseases.

The group will carry out activities in support of key WHO programmes aimed at curbing the spread of infectious diseases, specifically HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, that have severe negative impact on the health and well-being of communities within EMR and beyond.

The official designation was made possible with support provided by Qatar Foundation, the MoPH and the visionary leadership of the State of Qatar.

Visit qatar-weill.cornell.edu for more information about IDEG.