Posted on November 14, 2018

His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Father Amir, and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation (QF), today attended the opening ceremony of the fourth World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) at Qatar National Convention Centre.

As part of the opening ceremony, Her Highness Sheikha Moza was presented with the first 'Q-chip', highlighting the achievement of the Qatar Genome Programme and Qatar Biobank – both members of QF – in developing the first local Gene Array designed based on data from thousands of Qatari genomes sequenced during the past three years. 

Among those attending the opening day of the summit were Mrs. Aisha Buhari, the First Lady of Nigeria; Her Royal Highness Princess Muna al-Hussein and Her Royal Highness Princess Ghida Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Her Highness Sayyidah Dr. Mona Fahad Al Said of Oman; Her Excellency Dr. Hanan Al Kuwari, Qatar’s Minister of Public Health; and His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Abdul Wahed Al Hammadi, Qatar’s Minister of Education and Higher Education. Also in attendance were global healthcare leaders including regional directors of the World Health Organization (WHO); Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Director of the Eastern Mediterranean Region; and Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Director of the African Region, as well as health ministers from around the world.

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Her Excellency Dr. Hanan opened the two-day conference. “Harnessing new technology and maintaining highly skilled and motivated healthcare workers is key to benefiting global healthcare. Qatar’s health ranking within the Legatum Prosperity Index has risen in the past ten years, advancing from 27th in the world in 2008 to 13th place at present, and our quality of services continues to rise. “Our achievements take the spirit of partnerships with local and global collaborations with like-minded people who have a passion for health. We are stronger together when we are driven by our passion to create a healthier world,” said Dr. Hanan.

This year, a record number of policymakers, health experts, and government ministers are attending the summit, which has attracted over 2,000 attendees from over 100 countries. In his welcoming remarks, Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham, Executive Chair of WISH, said: “This unique gathering is an opportunity to confront the biggest challenges facing our health systems globally. Our distinguished speakers will share their experiences, and propose strategies to overcome the most urgent healthcare issues. “Our community shares a goal of building a healthier society, and I am confident that the connections forged here at WISH 2018 will result in innovative solutions that will influence healthcare policies around the world for many years to come.”

The keynote speech was delivered by David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), who announced IRC’s new agenda to treat global malnutrition. “Acute malnutrition at such a young, critical age can permanently impair long-term cognitive and physical development. Additionally, malnutrition increases the risk of infection due to impaired functioning of the immune system, which can compound these cognitive and physical development problems. So, this isn’t just about the health and safety of children right now, this is about preventing malnutrition from robbing children the opportunity to live full, healthy, productive lives.”

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Mr. Miliband also spoke of the vital need to invest in finding innovative and effective ways to deal with humanitarian crises at a time when more and more people are in desperate situations and are calling upon his organization for help. As part of a film created specially for showing during the opening ceremony, Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the USA and Nobel Laureate, delivered a surprise message. Speaking directly to WISH 2018 delegates, he said: “With political will, action, and commitment, we can help make a difference in people’s lives. We simply cannot stand idly by while others suffer. A healthier world is within our grasp, but we can succeed only if we are determined in our efforts.”

The key message to delegates on the first day of WISH 2018 was that collaboration across borders and disciplines, and a willingness to share innovative solutions to address the most serious global medical issues, provides the best opportunity for positive change. Panel discussions gave delegates the opportunity to engage with experts in their fields to explore healthcare topics in depth. Topics discussed on the first day included Eye Health, Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, and Mental Trauma Among Combat Refugees. Delegates also had the opportunity to visit the Innovation Hub, an interactive space featuring more than 50 innovators and WISH partner exhibitors.

On the second day of the summit, delegates will hear highly-anticipated keynote addresses from record-breaking swimmer Michael Phelps, who will share a personal perspective on handling mental health challenges, and Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland, who will focus on the effect of climate change on health.

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