Global experts share concerns on communicable diseases

 08 Nov 2017 - 8:34

Global experts share concerns on communicable diseases

The Peninsula

Over 200  health experts and researchers in Doha, the region and beyond attended the Fourth International Congress on Pathogens at the Human-Animal Interface (ICOPHAI) 2017, the first-ever conference on communicable diseases in the region.

Themed “Environmental Challenges and Impact on Global Health”, the 3-day conference (November 7-9) was organised and sponsored by Qatar University (QU), Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar (WCM-Q), Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), The Ohio State University (OSU), Université de Montréal, Universidade Federal da Paraيba, The John E. Fogarty International Center (FIC), Phytobiotics, Solar Cool Technologies Inc., Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and University of Gondar.

The event brought together a large number of health, agriculture and environment scientists and policy makers from many countries such as Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Ethiopia, India, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Qatar, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, The Netherlands, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and the USA. 

They discussed the “One Health” concept and exchanged information on infectious and non-communicable disease risk factors, complex issues such as antimicrobial resistance, current technological advances in diagnosis, and vaccine development, as well as the limitations and gaps in knowledge on pathogens at the animal-human interface.

The opening ceremony was attended by QU President Dr Hassan Al Derham, QU College of Health Sciences (CHS) Dean and Biomedical Research Center (BRC) Director and ICOPHAI 2017 Co-chair Dr Asma Al-Thani, MoPH Health Protection and Communicable Diseases Manager Dr Hamad Al Romaihi, OSU College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) Dean Prof Rustin Moore, and ICOPHAI 2017 Chair Prof Wondwossen Gebreyes, as well as a large number of officials from QU. 

The Day One featured a keynote address by MoPH Advisor Dr Roberto Bertollini, in which he discussed the “Environmental changes and their impact on global health”, a special session on “Zika Virus, Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases” led by Texas Biomedical Research Institute President and CEO Dr Larry Schlesinger, and two plenary sessions on “Parasitic and Environmental Zoonoses” and “One health and impact on climate change”, as well as a panel discussion on “Environmental Challenges and Impact on Global Health”.

The Day Two comprised three plenary sessions titled “Innovative Capacity Building, e-Learning and Outreach approaches”, “Antimicrobial Resistance and Drug Related Issues” and “Biosecurity, Biodefense, and Disaster Response”. 

The Day Three featured two plenary sessions titled “Pathogenesis, Vaccine Development and metagenomic Technologies” and “Food-borne and Water-borne Diseases”. Discussions focused on a wide range of topics such as “Point-of-Care Lionex and Lipoarabinomannan (LAM) antigen tests and rapid Tuberculosis detection in cattle using non-invasive samples”, “Characterization of diverse novel porcine astroviruses in East African smallholder piglets”, “Tumor Necrosis factor -308 gene polymorphism and risk of Plasmodium Falcifarum malaria infection among people living in Denbia wereda, Northwest Ethiopia”, “Detection and Phylogenetic Genotyping of Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) Among Blood Donors in Qatar”, and more. 

Also on the event’s program were poster discussions on “Food-borne and Water-borne Diseases”, “Zika Virus, Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases”, “Parasitic and Environmental Zoonoses/One health and impact on climate change”, “Innovative Capacity Building”, “Antimicrobial resistance and Drug Related Issues”, and “Biosecurity and Biodefense and Pathogenesis, Vaccine Development and metagenomic Technologies”.

In his remarks, Dr Hassan Al Derham said: “In a world with a growing population of 1.1% annually, there is a tremendous increase in environmental stress, and accordingly, it is mandatory for nations and communities to come together to address sustainability issues. In part, international scientific collaboration has become a must to find solutions for many challenges facing the humanity such as providing energy, food, and clean water for people around the globe.  With this notion comes our responsibility as academics, researchers, and policy makers to meet, discuss, and promote sustained international cooperation for effectively dealing with world’s growing crises.”

He added: “In Qatar, we invest about 3.5% of nation’s GDP to support research and build a knowledge-based economy that not only benefit our nation, but also all mankind worldwide. Despite the unfortunate situations that we are facing in this region including the blockade on Qatar, which in the first place weaken the interaction between scientists, we are all here to work together and reinforce our commitment to provide a peaceful and healthy environment for many generations to come. We welcome you to this meeting and we look forward to fruitful and informative discussions over the next few days.”