World Innovation Summit for Health “WISH” 2016

Doha, 29 November 2016


Ladies and Gentlemen,

As-salamalaykum (Peace be upon you)

When WISH was still just a concept before its first summit in 2013, our vision was to invest in WISH’s regional and international expertise by utilizing research and policy recommendations for practical applications in the health field, as well as to benefit from its evaluation tools to better understand and innovate healthcare services in Qatar. We were aware that creating advanced health awareness calls for an expansive healthcare vision that goes beyond the present and into a future tackling potential challenges through a proactive process.

Turning this vision into reality requires that we improve the complimentary pillars of education and health; supported by scientific research, innovation, sustainable development, and especially human development. This is what we have emphasized before and will continue to emphasize as we seek solutions.

Undoubtedly, every single country is seeking to improve and develop their healthcare system, with varying degrees of success from one country to another. There is no country with a perfect healthcare system. Every country in the world, us included, faces its own healthcare challenges.

I hope that participants in this year’s summit will benefit from the research produced by WISH to improve their own health system, and use WISH as their platform for observing and monitoring policy reform in their countries. We in Qatar are proud of our achievements in addressing health challenges, and hope that they will resonate beyond the health sector and positively impact society as a whole, as well as different sectors of development.

The first WISH forum of 2013 made accountable care a priority and laid out a broadly applicable framework to guide reform efforts in healthcare systems, through linking financing mechanisms to provide greater accountability and better outcomes. Through accountable care, we can shift focus towards putting patients first, using data and standards to support and document progress, and involve healthcare staff in our efforts to improve quality and cost. We are now implementing this approach in Qatar, as a result WISH’s support of health programs at the national level.

Building on the launch of Qatar Biobank in 2011, I used the inaugural WISH summit to launch the Qatar Genome Project, which aims to study the link between genetics and diseases in order to eventually move beyond the traditional ideas of clinical care and into applying medicine that recognizes that each person has their own genetic makeup and thus health needs. When medical practitioners understand a person’s specific needs and biological map, it will enable them to better diagnose and to treat disease individually, or as I call it, "Personalized Medicine", although specialized Arabic language scholars would be able to provide the most appropriate term in Arabic.

The first phase of the Qatar Genome Project was launched in September 2015, as part of a comprehensive national plan. It is meant to be the most ambitious national project of its kind in the region and, possibly, the world. During this pilot phase, we completed the genetic sequencing of more than 3000 Qatari nationals, and began drawing the Qatar genome map in order to help identify the different gene variations and disorders impacting the local population.

Regulations and policies have been drafted to govern genome research and applications in personalized medicine in close collaboration between the Qatar Genome Project, Qatar BioBank, and the Ministry of Health. These will constitute a national and overarching framework for all health-related research in the country. This is also to build a network of specialized researchers who can share and analyze the vast data from the Qatar Genome Project.

The ultimate aim of the genome project is to contribute to the development of the national healthcare system, and accumulate the genomes of nationals in healthcare records accessible to all health centers, hospitals and clinics. This goal will be discussed and reviewed in detail at the end of the pilot phase to guarantee the protection and confidentiality of patients’ health information.

With all this, we must keep in mind the importance of moral and religious responsibility when dealing with innovative progress in the field of medicine. We need to open and broaden our horizons when dealing with issues of health, and renew efforts to align research with our culture and religion to support progress and achievement in medical sciences. In other words, we should respect our religious and ethical values, but that should not prevent us from being present and impactful on the global health map. In order to approach these issues, this year WISH is organizing a panel on Genomics in the Gulf region and Islamic ethics.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Everything we have mentioned here today stems from the belief that our people are the driving force at the heart of these policies and innovations. It is the foundation of Qatar’s vision for development in all areas.

I applaud your efforts and wish you every success at the conference.

Peace be Upon you.