Posted on November 07, 2017

The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), an initiative of Qatar Foundation, has presented its findings from research into dementia and autism to the fifth International Workshop on Food and Brain Health, held at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) in Muscat, Oman.

The two-day event, which was held under the patronage of Her Highness Dr. Mona Fahad Al Said, Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Cooperation at SQU, from November 5-6, brought together delegates from around the world to investigate the impact of food and nutrition on brain health. Discussions covered topics from the definition, causes, and treatment for neurodegenerative diseases to research findings on dietary practices and their unique role in health. At the event, Sultana Afdhal, Acting Chief Executive Officer, WISH, and Dr. Walid Qoronfleh, Director of Research and Policy Development, WISH, met with Her Highness Dr. Al Said in order to outline WISH’s work and to discuss areas of potential future collaboration between WISH and SQU.

Reflecting on the meeting, Ms. Afdhal said: “I'm pleased to have had the opportunity to accompany the WISH research team to SQU, where we were given the chance to join the discussion on food and brain health and to share our research on autism and dementia, two very important mental health-related topics. Further studies within both can bring great benefit to the population of Qatar, the region, and beyond. It was also an honor to meet with Her Highness Dr. Al Said and be able to discuss with her how WISH and SQU can collaborate in the future.” Dr. Qoronfleh delivered a keynote address on dementia on the first day of the workshop, which was organized by SQU’s Food Science and Nutrition Department at the College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences, in association with the Ageing and Dementia Research Group.

QF’s WISH presents research 2 [].jpg

In his address, Dr. Qoronfleh highighted the main learnings accumulated from the two research reports produced by WISH to date, namely a 2015 dementia forum report titled ‘A Call to Action: The Global Response to Dementia through Policy Innovation’ and a 2016 meeting report titled ‘Enhancing the Response to the Burden and Impact of Dementia Through Policy and Social Innovation in the Eastern Mediterranean Region’. A presentation about WISH’s autism research findings were delivered on the second day by three members of WISH’s Qatar-based research team, Sanaa Taha Alharahsheh, Senior Associate of Research and Policy, and Research and Policy Development Officers Faras K. Almeer and Maha El Akoum. Their presentation was based on the WISH 2016 report titled ‘Autism: A Global Framework for Action’.

Dr. Qoronfleh said: “WISH has been active in advancing the dementia agenda in Qatar and I was grateful to have the opportunity to come to Oman to share our research findings in this area. Additionally, the workshop provided an opportunity for the WISH research team to present details of our autism research. “WISH’s research reports on dementia provide a novel framework that combines three pillars – prevention, diagnosis, and care – in a way that helps lead to an understanding of how best to deal with the global burden of dementia and to improve outcomes of people living with dementia. The reports also offer policy recommendations that focus on effective dementia management for successful public health that is particularly applicable to the Eastern Mediterranean region, a region that includes the Arabian Gulf.”

QF’s WISH presents research 3 [].jpg

In addition to the WISH representatives, Qatar’s interest in promoting brain health was outlined by Dr. Ghazi Daradkeh, Clinical Dietitian at Hamad Medical Corporation, during a presentation about the benefits of good nutrition for patients with traumatic brain injuries. Forty-four million people live with dementia worldwide, and this figure is expected to reach 135 million by 2050. As part of its commitment toward highlighting the growing problem of dementia as a global public health challenge, WISH has supported Qatar’s participation in the Global Dementia Observatory and is an active participant in Qatar’s National Dementia Stakeholder Forum. Qatar was one of only three pilot countries in the region to take part in this initiative, which was designed to collect data on dementia and to support improvement of national policies with advice and resources.

An editorial summary of WISH’s research findings into dementia written by Dr. Qoronfleh was published in the October – December 2017 issue of the International Journal of Nutrition, Pharmacology, Neurological Diseases (volume 7, issue 4).

The 2016 research reports on autism and dementia can be accessed through the WISH website: