Pilot programme will see clinical experts assess nutrition of workers, address latent health issues and offer dietary enhancements

The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), the organisation responsible for delivering the infrastructure required for the 2022 FIFA World CupTM, has entered into a partnership agreement with Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) to assess the health of workers on World Cup construction projects.

Working with workers, contractors and catering supply companies to improve workers’ nutrition, the assessment and training pilot programme, which started in February, saw a team of experts from WCM-Q examine workers’ health, diets, and assess their general awareness of the importance of nutrition. The team will also evaluate current nutritional intake and identify prevalent health challenges among workers which, improved nutrition may help resolve.

The pilot programme, which will initially target a random sample of 1,000 workers on SC projects, will be broken down in the following stages:

  • Phase 1 – Health Checks & Reporting: WCM-Q will carry out basic health checks of 1,000 workers to determine prevalence of health related issues including but not limited to: hypertension (high blood pressure); blood glucose; hydration status, body measurements, grip strength and respiratory parameters. The key findings will be compiled into a report outlining the recommendations for phases 2 and 3;
  • Phase 2 – Awareness & Training Campaign (Workers, Contractors & Caterers): WCM-Q will aim to educate at least 1,000 workers on the benefits of healthy lifestyles and balanced diets. Key stakeholders will also be provided information on the need to provide nutritious food options for workers. Access to dietitians and nutritionists will be provided; 
  • Phase 3 – Catering Enhancement & Reporting: WCM-Q will work collaboratively with contractors and catering suppliers to recommend nutritional food options for the sample of 1,000 workers via revised food options within their worksites and accommodation.

This landmark initiative, which is being launched with the Institute of Population Health at WCM-Q, will conclude with the release of a detailed report to the Supreme Committee that will summarise the outcomes, impact and key findings of the programme, and make recommendations for future intervention.

Dr Ravinder Mamtani, Senior Associate Dean for Population Health, Capacity Building and Student Affairs at WCM-Q, said they are extremely happy to be partnering with the SC on this initiative.

We are particularly pleased that the initiative places such strong emphasis on practical steps to monitor the health of workers and take action to improve nutrition and understanding of what constitutes a healthy diet.’

The  expert team from WCM-Q will be led by Dr Shahrad Taheri, Professor of Medicine and Assistant Dean for Clinical Investigations, and Dr Odette Chagoury, Associate Director of Clinical Research. Dr Taheri and Dr Chagoury both have a wealth of experience assessing the effectiveness of health and nutrition interventions.

Dr Taheri said that nutrition plays a vital role in an individual’s health and even small changes to diet can make a huge difference to overall wellbeing. The impact of this initiative, both on the short and long-term health of workers associated with SC construction projects, could be significant especially if the findings are taken on board by other companies and international businesses operating in Qatar.

This agreement is the latest addition to the SC’s workers’ welfare programme, which seeks to ensure the health, safety and dignity of everyone on SC construction projects in Qatar. Workers’ welfare falls under the responsibility of the SC’s dedicated Workers’ Welfare Division (WWD), which has been tasked with ensuring that the 2022 FIFA World CupTM leaves a lasting social legacy for workers in Qatar.

SC Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi, welcome the new initiative.

The ultimate outcome of this programme is happy and healthy workers with a more balanced diet and a better understanding of what they need to do themselves to keep healthy while working and living in Qatar.’

Dr Javaid I Sheikh, Dean of WCM-Q said that the initiative represents an exciting opportunity to tackle a global problem – that of nutritional deficiencies among migrant workers.

Through this initiative, we therefore not only hope to better understand the specific nutritional needs of workers in Qatar, but also to educate them about diet so they can pass this knowledge on to their families when they return home.’

The launch of the programme follows a number of other significant steps the SC has taken in the last 12 months to improve the welfare of workers on SC construction projects, including the signing of an MoU with the Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) for joint health and safety inspections at accommodations and sites, and the launch of an innovative cooling technologies programme involving the identification of cooling helmets, vests and towels for distribution to workers on SC sites.

The SC currently has eight construction sites underway across Qatar and just over 10,000 workers on-site at any given time. The number of workers engaged on SC construction projects is expected to rise to 36,000 in the next 12 months as various projects approach completion or the main works stage, with Khalifa International Stadium expected for completion in the second quarter of 2017 and the Al Wakrah and Qatar Foundation stadiums both rapidly heading towards their completion dates in 2018.

For more information about this joint initiative, you can visit qatar-weill.cornell.edu or sc.qa.