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Weill Cornell Expands Partnership for Promoting Awarness on Healthy Lifestyle in Schools Qatar

15 January 2018

The Ministry of Municipality and Environment and Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) have announced the signing of a major new strategic partnership to promote environmental sustainability and healthy eating among Qatar’s young people to meet the challenges of the future. 

Under the new partnership, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment will provide strategic support and expert advice to WCM-Q’s flagship public health campaign, Sahtak Awalan – Your Health First. 

Your Health First runs Project Greenhouse, a highly successful initiative which has already gifted greenhouses, seeds, and gardening equipment to 130 schools across Qatar to teach students how to grow a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, and herbs. 

With all countries across the world facing critical issues such as climate change, food security, and health issues like obesity, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease, Project Greenhouse is providing the future generation in Qatar with essential practical skills and knowledge to meet and overcome these challenges. The project is also teaching children to appreciate where their food comes from, the importance of eating fresh produce for good health, and valuable lessons about environmental sustainability. Importantly, children are taking the fresh produce they have grown – and these valuable lessons – home with them from school, encouraging their families to eat healthily and to think about sustainability and green issues. 

The Ministry of Municipality and Environment will now provide crucial technical and scientific expertise, materials and support as Project Greenhouse expands and enters an exciting new phase and prepares for the next five years of promoting sustainability and health. 

Existing greenhouses are to be expanded, more schools are to join the program, and production will increase to boost the yield of important crops. The aim is for all schools across Qatar to be enrolled in Project Greenhouse, giving all students the chance to both learn and contribute, creating a strong and healthy young generation able to fulfill the vision of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. 

The healthy produce grown in the schools will be offered for general sale to the community in Qatar at specially created market stalls, at good value prices, with all revenues from sales to be reinvested into Project Greenhouse to strengthen and expand the initiative. 

Project Greenhouse will continue to benefit from the steadfast support it has received to date from the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. 

Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Foundation (QF), commented on the partnership, saying: “We, at Qatar Foundation, are honored to collaborate with the Ministry of Municipality and Environment. We value this cooperation as, together, with all of our partners, we strive to promote the importance of food security and environmental sustainability, while, simultaneously, improving the health and wellbeing of our local community. Indeed, it is vital now more than ever that we are collectively working to invest in Qatar’s future.”

The new strategic partnership between the Ministry of Municipality and Environment and WCM-Q, a partner organization of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, will make a significant and long-lasting contribution to the goals of achieving good health, environmental sustainability, and self-sufficiency, as set out in Qatar National Vision 2030. 

H.E. Mr. Muhammad Bin Abdullah Al Rumaihi, Minister of Municipality and Environment, said: “This strategic partnership between the Ministry of Municipality and Environment and Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar marks the beginning of a collaboration that will benefit all members of the community in Qatar. It is of paramount importance that young people in Qatar not only eat a healthy, balanced diet, but that they also understand how the earth provides for us all, and how we must respect, protect, and sustain the environment in order to meet the challenges that the future holds. This collaboration will further those aims significantly.”

His Excellency Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Wahid Al-Hammadi, the Minister of Education and Higher Education, stated that human development within the framework of Qatar National Vision 2030 aims to achieve a number of goals, the most important of which are to promote interest in the educational system, and improve physical and psychological health so unlocking the potential of a qualified and committed workforce. Hence, health and environmental awareness are among the basic knowledge that we are promoting among learners for the undoubtedly positive effects on Man and the environment in general. The Ministry of Education and Higher Education, in cooperation with various bodies, undertakes educational and awareness roles while offering a high level of education for our students.

His Excellency the Minister further hailed the partnership of the Ministry of Municipality and Environment with the Your Health First campaign and the support the Ministry can provide to Project Greenhouse which is being implemented in schools across the State of Qatar. This emphasizes the aspiration of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to work with the Ministry of Municipality and all other partners in achieving the objectives of Your Health First to change the lifestyles of students and members of the community to healthy and active ones.

His Excellency the Minister said: “In this context, we call on schools to further cooperate with the Your Health First campaign to educate our children about the healthy habits that can protect them from diseases and improve the prospects for a physically and psychologically healthy life.

SC Secretary General H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi said: “We are delighted that the Ministry of Municipality and Environment has joined Your Health First as the latest strategic partner, which will further support the campaign’s efforts to promote environmental sustainability amongst Qatar’s youth. We are proud of our collaboration with Your Health First through our flagship CSR programme “Generation Amazing”. This cooperation forms part of our commitment to ensure that the 2022 FIFA World Cup serves as a catalyst for development across various sectors in Qatar and leaves a lasting legacy for future generations”.  

H.E. Dr. Falah Bin Naser Al Thani, Undersecretary Assistant for Agriculture Affairs & Fisheries Resources at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, said: “Through this strategic partnership we will be able to share our expertise with the young people of Qatar so that they can continue to grow excellent crops, boost their output, and also understand the science of agriculture and climate change. We believe these are crucial competencies for Qatar going forward.” 

Dr. Javaid Sheikh, Dean of WCM-Q, said: “We are honored and privileged to welcome the Ministry of Municipality and Environment as our new strategic partner. The unparalleled expertise in agricultural science that the ministry can offer to Sahtak Awalan – Your Health First and Project Greenhouse will help enormously in driving these initiatives’ growth and success, bringing fresh, healthy produce to the community in Qatar, and equipping schoolchildren with a keen understanding and appreciation of the environment.”

“This partnership between the Ministry of Municipality and Environment and Sahtak Awalan – Your Health First – will strengthen our ability to improve the health of Qatar’s population, specifically its youth. Your Health First supports the Ministry of Public Health’s commitment to raise awareness of healthy lifestyle habits among Qatar’s residents, and is in line with the Rome Declaration on Nutrition which Qatar has signed up to which aims to improve nutrition for children and reverse the obesity trend, as well as the Qatar Dietary Guidelines which provide a healthy dietary framework for the population of Qatar. With this new partnership, we can be confident that Your Health First will continue to improve the health of our nation for many years to come,” said Sheikha Dr. Al-Anoud bint Mohamed Al-Thani, Director of Health Promotion and Non-communicable Diseases at the Ministry of Public Health. 

Mr. Andrew H. Kershaw, President and General Manager of Occident Petroleum of Qatar, commented, “Occidental looks forward to working with the Ministry of Municipality and Environment to advance the goals of Project Greenhouse. The ministry’s expertise will be a great benefit in the campaign’s efforts to teach school children about healthy eating through the experience of planting seeds and seeing vegetables grow. Learning how to eat nutritious foods at a young age is crucial to establishing good eating habits – and this partnership will help increase awareness about the environment and health issues.”

“ExxonMobil Qatar has supported the Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar and Ministry of Public Health's Sahtak Awalan - Your Health First campaign since its inception because we want to increase public awareness on critical health issues that impact the community we live and work in,” said Alistair Routledge, President and General Manager for ExxonMobil Qatar.

"Our support for the campaign underscores our commitment to building a healthier Qatar and maintaining a workforce that can sustain Qatar’s bright future, in line with the objectives of the Qatar National Vision 2030. We are very proud of its success over the years and look forward to seeing more and more outstanding outcomes in the future," he added.

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