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Qatar Signals Commitment to Human Health through New Practical Arrangements with the IAEA


Deputy Director General Hua Liu and Assistant Minister of Health Affairs in Qatar Saleh Ali Al-Marri sign a new agreement on 9 November 2023 in Qatar. (Photo: Ministry of Health, Qatar)

Support for IAEA activities related to food safety and radiation medicine in the Middle East have been strengthened through the signing of Practical Arrangements between the IAEA and the Ministry of Public Health of Qatar. The Practical Arrangements, signed on 9 November, bring together the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to support Qatar’s convening role as an international hub for food safety and radiation medicine. The agreement focuses on improving radiation medicine for the treatment of cancer and other non-communicable diseases, and on bolstering food safety by building capacity to monitor and identify food contaminants. 

“Now, ten years after its first technical cooperation project, the Food Safety Laboratory shows the potential to be a hub for training in the food safety discipline and associated research. To conclude, the Ministry of Public Health and the Hamad Medical Corporation also wish to confirm their commitment and readiness to become an IAEA Collaborating Centre or Anchor Centre for Rays of Hope. Priority for capacity building using these centres will be given to Least Developed Countries (LDCs),” said Assistant Minister Salih Al-Marri, Ministry of Public Health, Qatar at the signing ceremony. 

The State of Qatar has already made a tangible commitment to supporting LDCs, announcing a contribution of $50 million to help build resilience in LDCs in March 2023 at the Fifth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries. In less than a year, the Practical Arrangements, including a corresponding implementation action plan, were developed to help turn this support into a reality. Under the new Practical Arrangements, experts from IAEA Member States, including LDCs, will be trained in food safety at Qatar’s Central Food Laboratory, and on radiation medicine in its hospitals.  

“This Practical Arrangement aims to contribute to the enhancement of the quality of healthcare in other countries, especially Least Developed Countries. It is a good milestone and step forward in making concrete what was discussed earlier this year during the LDC5 Conference in Doha,” said IAEA Deputy Director Hua Liu. 

IAEA staff meet with representatives of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Environment and Climate Change in Qatar to discuss next steps. (Photo: Ministry of Health, Qatar)

Qatar works closely with the IAEA and has had eight technical cooperation projects in the health field so far. The new Practical Arrangements aim to build upon these efforts and further IAEA capacity building, the publication of training materials, and the participation of Qatari experts in IAEA activities. While Qatar has previously hosted fellows and IAEA training courses for State Parties of the Cooperative Agreement for Arab States in Asia for Research, Development and Training related to Nuclear Science and Technology (ARASIA) , it will now also be opening its doors to scientists from around the world. 

The new partnership will help Qatar in its goal to promote its cutting-edge scientific facilities. The Central Food Laboratory of Qatar, for example, is equipped to detect more than 500 different food contaminants. With a diverse international staff of more than 100 scientists, the laboratory uses a broad range of nuclear and conventional techniques to help ensure food safety. Under the new agreement, professionals from ARASIA State Parties and beyond will also be able to benefit from this expertise.  

Qatar is likewise at the forefront of cancer care in the region, with its National Centre for Cancer Care Research. In total, 16 hospitals in Qatar provide radiotherapy and nuclear medicine treatments for approximately three million people. In line with the IAEA’s Rays of Hope initiative, the Practical Arrangement will support more equitable access to cancer care for all through the training of medical health professionals from Qatar and from further afield. 

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