Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) has a new elective course, offered in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), for students to learn about the management of public health emergencies like the coronavirus outbreak.

The course was developed as quickly as possible to enable students to gain experience while working with MOPH during the current outbreak, and also contributing to efforts to contain the spread of the virus. There are now seven third-year medical students enrolled on the course.

While observing physical distancing protocols, the students will spend six hours a week, spread over two days, at the Department of Public Health at MOPH, as well as take online lectures and seminars with WCM-Q faculty and participate in small-group discussion groups.

While at MOPH, the students will observe, interact and come to understand how a public health department manages the outbreak of an infectious disease, and will also have opportunities to contribute to the work of the department.

The elective, developed jointly by MOPH and the Institute for Population Health (IPH) at WCM-Q, will give students a broad overview of public health aspects of infectious disease control, and explain the causes and characteristics of outbreaks, methods for investigating outbreaks, tools for managing outbreaks, and how to effectively communicate the outbreak risk to individual patients and the community at large.

According to Dr Ravinder Mamtani, WCM-Q Professor of Healthcare Policy and Research and Vice Dean for Student Affairs, Population Health, and Lifestyle Medicine, their students are highly motivated to help protect public health.

We wanted to provide an opportunity for them to contribute to the measures to contain the virus, while also making the best of a difficult situation by providing them with valuable learning experience during the outbreak. An elective course seemed the most appropriate vehicle to achieve both aims.

Dr Mamtani said he is very grateful to everyone at MOPH for collaborating with the project and helping to get the elective up and running as quickly as possible. He said that they believe the students can be of assistance. The course will also be a great learning vehicle for them to know first-hand how public health emergencies are managed, which eventually, will be of benefit to the community in the future.

The course is being directed and delivered by Dr Mamtani, Sheikh Dr Mohammed Al Thani, Dr Sohaila Cheema, and Dr Mohamud Verjee.

Sheikh Dr Mohammed Al Thani said the elective is an effective way for MOPH to help demonstrate to the next generation of doctors how to strategise to contain outbreaks of infectious diseases like COVID-19, which will be of great long-term benefit to the entire community in Qatar.

To learn more about the new course, visit qatar-weill.cornell.edu.