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Health integral to living a fulfilled life: Sheikha Hind

Health integral to living a fulfilled life: Sheikha Hind

CATHERINE W GICHUKI
Doha
One should look at health as an integral component to living a fulfilled life, said Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice-Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Foundation, adding, “it needs to be part of a holistic learning environment that we create for our children”.
She was speaking at the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) 2020 at a session on ‘The Role of Schools in Child and Adolescent Health’.
According to HE Sheikha Hind, “mental health is a critical subject that is really missing in our education system. But, I don’t believe adding it to school assignments or looking at it as a metric to improve school performance will solve the issue. We need to take a step back and look at health as an integral component of living a fulfilled life,” she said.
“The first step is identifying how schools themselves are contributing to the mental health crisis – what is the effect on children of regular exams, of bullying, of competitive sport? We should take an honest look at how we, as institutions, can help to relieve that stress, because if we are going to tackle student well-being, we need to be serious about creating a less anxious future,” she said.
During the session, Russell Viner, professor in Adolescent Health, University College London, presented a report on ‘Building Healthy Societies-A framework for Integrating Health and Health Promotion into Education.”
Referring to the report, HE Sheikha Hind said that as part of the suggestions from the report, what she found intriguing was the issue of mental health language and teaching children the right vocabulary to express their feelings which is something most often overlooked.
Talking about empowering children, HE Sheikha Hind said, “To empower children is to give them adequate tools that can cater to their unique needs and allowing them to grow in a safe, healthy and nurturing environment.”
Prof Viner said, “Children and young people constitute 25 percent of the global population, but they are 100 percent of all our futures, across every culture. The great task of childhood for children themselves and for nations is to grow up into knowledgeable, productive, healthy and happy adults. Both health and education are a key to achieve this, and they are inextricably linked in ways that we need to better understand.”
Other panellists at the session included HRH The Countess of Wessex, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti and President of the global children’s charity ‘Theirworld’ and Executive Director of the Global Business Coalition for Education Justin van Fleet.
HRH The Countess of Wessex, who is Patron of ‘Vision 2020: The Right To Sight’ and Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, explained that she has seen first-hand “the effect that early intervention can have on preventing young eyes losing sight”.
“In so many developing countries, there is historically a culture of acceptance that if you have an eye problem, it’s purely ‘the luck of the draw’. But if we are able to reverse that understanding through creating better awareness of treatments, the positives of wearing glasses, and ensuring the availability of affordable eye services, the effects can be profound. Teachers and schools are absolutely critical when it comes to these kinds of messages and interventions.
“The engagement of children in helping to educate each other about the importance of eye care is beginning to turn the tide of understanding that eye issues can be treated, that glasses are good, that eyes are precious, and that poor eyesight or diseased eyes should not be ignored and accepted as fate. And we need governments to understand that education and health, when they work together, are a winning combination.”

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