With Qatar soon to take the center stage of world sports, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and World Health Organization (WHO) are driving forward efforts to help make this global celebration of football a beacon for health and safety, and a launchpad for sharing lessons with future mega sporting events. The partnership, which began last October, is supported by FIFA and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy and is part of a drive to promote health globally through football.
HE Minister of Public Health Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari explained that the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is a unique platform to promote health worldwide and communicate that sport and health go together. "Sport and health are intertwined, and together they play out in a celebration of joy, well-being, and solidarity for billions of people worldwide." "The partnership on Sport for Health has two main focus areas. First, the partnership is working to help make the 2022 tournament - the first of its kind held in the Middle East - healthy and safe. Second, the partnership will capture all that was learned to share with our partners and organizers of other mega athletic events to channel the power of sport to help improve global public health and security," added HE Dr. Al Kuwari.
Her Excellency explained that by using the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 to promote healthy lifestyles, people worldwide can be inspired to play football and other sports. The partners are committed to delivering campaigns to raise awareness of the benefits of physical activity on health and promote the importance of following a healthy lifestyle through adopting healthy food choices during major sporting events.
In the same vein, she explained that smoke-free stadiums and bans on tobacco marketing at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 are among key protections offered to protect people from this deadly product. Benefits of these measures will help promote and protect the health of sports followers at future mega sporting events.
"Whether you are engaging in high-intensity workouts or even just simple regular activity, every effort counts towards a healthy body and a happy mind. To further promote healthy lives, we are underscoring the importance of nutrition by demonstrating the benefits of offering healthy food choices at mega sporting events," said HE Dr. Al Kuwari.
"As we all know, teamwork is essential for success in sports. The same is true for protecting and promoting health. We are committed to continue striving for this year's FIFA World Cup in Qatar and beyond to leverage the global power of sport to help people lead the healthiest lives possible," concluded HE Dr. Al Kuwari.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, said that by focusing on physical activity, healthy diets and nutrition, tobacco control, mental health, and health security, the partnership strives to provide guidance on how to help improve the physical and mental health of all people globally through sports.
"The goals we've set our sights on are ambitious, so the foundation for our partnership must be solid and based upon three key pillars. These include health promotion through strategic collaboration with governments and sports stakeholders alike, reaching billions of people through football and other sports in order to promote healthy lives. Health security is also important and prioritizes putting safety and security at the center of all mega sporting events for the benefit of fans, players and staff. Finally, public health communications are critical, which means we must distill and amplify important information to the public in order to help them make healthy lifestyle choices," added Dr. Ghebreyesus.
Under health promotion, the partnership is leveraging this year's FIFA World Cup to promote the health benefits of simple physical activity for all through sport by developing new tools to reach people of all ages, particularly youth. The partners have been busy developing guidance and science through technical engagements in order to communicate the importance of physical activity.
One of the key findings is that good mental health can often be linked to regular physical activity, which includes sports or, again, simply walking and participating in physical activities with others. This can also help to promote a sense of inclusion and community.
"Lastly, keeping sporting events safe through a commitment to health security is a fundamental pillar of the Healthy World Cup project. From ensuring implementation of mass gathering protocols outside and inside stadiums, to adhering to control measures to protect people from infectious disease outbreaks at mega sporting events, we are committed to working with partners to ensure all necessary steps are taken to make mega sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup, safe and secure," stated Dr. Ghebreyesus.
Since the partnership kicked off, MoPH and WHO have worked in close collaboration to promote physical health and well-being around several key milestones. These include promoting health and nutritional awareness during the Holy Month of Ramadan, engaging in the third edition of the "Walk the Talk: Health For All Challenge" in Geneva, and raising awareness of the harms caused by smoking on World No Tobacco Day.
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