By Noimot Olayiwola/Staff Reporter
A five-year health awareness campaign – Your Health First or Sahtak Awalan in Arabic – began its first stage during the weekend with a series of community-oriented events at Souq Waqif. The campaign, jointly launched by the Supreme Council of Health and the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q), has the participation of a number of strategic partners like Qatar Petroleum, Occidental Petroleum of Qatar, ExxonMobil and Vodafone Qatar . At the launch event on Friday night, a number of residents visited booths set up by the participating partners in the initiative. The SCHs medical specialists offered visitors free check-ups and advice about healthy lifestyle. The first stage of the campaign, which ends on December 31, is focusing on awareness and public health concepts. The initial and subsequent stages will make use of all possible media, including social networks, to reach out to the the public. During the first stage a range of awareness events will be held, covering topics such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, psychological health, woman and child healthcare, bone health and rheumatoid arthritis, stress and insomnia, benefits of vitamins, cancer, healthy eating habits among children, teens and adult. We are organising this event at Souq Waqif to provide an opportunity for the community to learn from the experts about healthy practices and lifestyle choices, WCMC-Q dean Dr Javaid Sheikh said . He said that raising awareness on how to improve health was especially significant at this time of year as during the holy month of Ramadan, the sudden change in eating habits can have adverse effects on health and wellbeing. The event featured fun, light-hearted presentations from local culture and football stars, which helped ensure Your Health First achieves its objective of sharing health information among the 10-25 year age group. A Qatari comedian, Mohamed Kamal, joined other celebrities to present health information through a simple question-and-answer competition at the launch ceremony. One of Al Sadd football stars gave tips on how to maintain a healthy body through healthy behaviour to the public, particularly the youth. The event provided the public with access to physicians from the faculty of WCMC-Q and the SCH, who were available to answer questions. Dieticians were on hand to assist the public in taking their first step towards healthy living. Ritz-Carlton Hotel Doha supported the campaign by providing entertainment for the children as part of Garangao celebrations. Apart from creating awareness about health issues which have arisen due to socio-economic growth in the country, other objectives of Your Health First initiative were: to provide an interactive platform with healthcare professionals which will lead to increased public knowledge about diseases and steps to avoid or manage future complications; to motivate people into living a healthier lifestyle; to provide health and medical information in laymans terminology which is easy for the general public to understand; to turn negative health behaviours into a healthy lifestyle; and to create healthy habits among member of the younger population in order to achieve a healthy society in Qatar, in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030. While the campaigns primary target audience comprises children and teens as well as young adults aged 18-35 years, a secondary target group comprised people aged 35-55 years and above. Part of the initiative includes five-minute health awareness programmes being aired on Qatar Television during Ramadan, as well as daily health tips via Qatar Radio. Your Health First will also make use of digital media and social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to reach the largest number of Qatar nationals and expatriates living in the country. A smartphone app will provide users with updated health tips for healthy lifestyles while Vodafone Qatar will also launch an SMS campaign in support of the initiative. Other target programmes in the campaign include Painting a Healthy Future initiative, which aims to attract people of different ages to participate in creating a collective health-related painting which will, hopefully, break a world record and enter the Guinness Book of World Records. Be Ready for the Challenge is an inter-school contest that will see schools compete to raise health awareness.
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