Browsing 'health' News

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Drowning is a silent killer and can happen within seconds, especially in children.

This is why parents must watch their kids very closely when they are in the water, a Hamad Medical Corp. (HMC) doctor has said.

The number of children who drown in Qatar is going up each year, the chairman of Qatar’s Kulluna Health and Safety campaign said this week.

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In a statement, Dr. Khalid Abdulnoor Saifeldeen added that 90 percent of drowning cases involve children under the age of 10 years old, and 70 percent of those cases are victims younger than four.

He added:

“Drowning incidents in Qatar occur mainly at home, in private swimming pools and bathtubs. There are also some incidents of drowning in the sea.

Almost all the drowning incidents in swimming pools in Qatar happen when the parent or caregiver is not present.”

He explained there are several myths about drowning, which include the belief that:

  • Children will follow instructions and stay away from water hazards;
  • Kids can safely be left unattended for short periods of time;
  • A lifejacket or flotation device will prevent drowning;
  • Adequate safety measures (such as a lifeguard) are already in place; and
  • Younger children can play safely in the care of older kids.

Safety tips

To help keep children safe, the doctor advised constant supervision, teaching children how to swim and setting/enforcing clear rules about what to do near water.

Learning to perform CPR is also recommended, and free courses are offered through Kulluna.

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Finally, Saifeldeen recommended thinking beyond the obvious to reduce the risk of drowning.

According to Kulluna’s website, children in Qatar have drowned in swimming pools, baths, fish tanks, buckets, on building sites and in the sea.

“About 70 to 80 percent of drowning cases happen when the child is not supposed to be in the water,” Saifeldeen said.

For adults, the Ministry of Interior has previously advised not swimming alone; never replacing life jackets with plastic water rings as they are not designed to keep swimmers safe; and never using water rings of any type if the water is deep.

Thoughts?

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Qatar residents – especially women – are among the most sedentary in the world, a new Stanford University study has found.

The report, published in international science journal Nature, found that people living in Qatar take some 4,158 steps on average each day.

That’s a ways below the global average of 4,961.

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To arrive at their conclusions, scientists at the US-based university analyzed the steps taken by more than 700,000 people in 111 countries, using the data from the accelerometers on their smartphones.

Activity inequality

Interestingly, researchers said that the number of steps taken wasn’t as important as how evenly divided activity was between men and women.

The bigger the gap in activity levels, the more likely it was that the country struggled with obesity problems, the report’s authors said.

“When activity inequality is greatest, women’s activity is reduced much more dramatically than men’s activity, and thus the negative connections to obesity can affect women more greatly,” computer scientist Jure Leskovec said.

Qatar was ranked most unequal in terms of activity levels on the index,. Women take 38 percent fewer daily steps than men (2,978 compared to 4,802).

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Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US also fared poorly when it came to activity inequality, and all of these nations also have a high prevalence of obesity.

At the top of the rankings were Hong Kong, China and Ukraine. In each of these countries, residents walked more than 6,000 steps a day.

‘Ticking time bomb’

Qatar and its neighbors’ poor scores likely don’t come as a surprise to many in the Gulf.

Just last month, medical experts warned that lifestyle-related diseases among women in the region are a “ticking time bomb.”

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In a new study about GCC women’s health issues, researchers found that the highest prevalence of obesity was in Qatar.

A whopping 45.3 percent of women in the country were classified as obese based on their body mass index. And 61 percent of women in Qatar walked less than 20 minutes a day.

Similar rates were found in other Gulf states, according to the report, titled The Ticking Time Bomb in Lifestyle-related Diseases Among Women in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries.

This is in part due to a lack of facilities or access to fitness centers, the National reported.

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The desert climate, a lack of social support and prevalence of household help also play a role, according to the study’s lead author.

Dr. Mashael Alshaikh explained:

“The social norms and the effect of urbanization, such as importing cheap labor to help the woman in the house – this limits the physical activity, even inside the house.

Data from the WHO shows that the countries with gender inequality have more health risks, that’s why we focused on cardiovascular disease prevention.”

Walkability

To improve activity levels worldwide, Stanford researchers suggested creating an environment in which it is safe and enjoyable to walk.

Citing examples in the US, Dr. Scott Delp said:

“If you must cross major highways to get from point A to point B in a city, the walkability is low; people rely on cars,” he said. “In cities like New York and San Francisco, where you can get across town on foot safely, the city has high walkability.”

In Qatar, walking continues to be a difficult and sometime dangerous activity. This is due to ongoing construction, the heat and stares from passersby, according to some women.

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However, authorities are working to establish more pedestrian-friendly interchanges, especially at “black spots” around the country.

What else do you think can be done to boost activity levels in Qatar? Thoughts?

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Qatar’s high level of air pollution has earned it a spot on a new map that highlights the world’s most toxic countries.

The Gulf state ranked fourth worst on the list, which was published in January by UK-based Eco Experts and picked up by the Weather Channel this week.

The most toxic country was neighboring Saudi Arabia, followed by Kuwait and Bahrain. The UAE and Oman came just after Qatar on the index.

EcoExperts

World’s most toxic nations

To come up with the map, Eco Experts analyzed data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Energy Agency. It zeroed in specifically on five factors:

  • Energy consumption, per capita;
  • Carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion, per capita;
  • Air pollution;
  • Deaths attributable to air pollution, per 100,00 capita; and
  • Renewable energy production.

Eco Experts

Asia and Middle East region

In a statement, SEO manager Jon Whiting explained the company’s motivations for coming up with the rankings.

“This research is a way of naming and shaming the worst offenders around the world. Their lack of action against emissions not only puts their populations at risk of deadly pollution-related diseases but also threatens the future of our planet.

These threats are not distant concerns for future generations; their effects are being felt now and lives are already being lost. This research highlights the need for every country to act fast and put more investment into renewable energy alternatives.”

Pollution problem

As an energy producing nation, it’s no surprise that Qatar has one of the largest carbon footprints in the world.

But Qatar also has poor air quality.

According to a 2016 WHO report, air pollution in Qatar vastly exceeds safe limits and is damaging the health of the population.

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It stated that Qatar has the second highest levels of PM2.5 particles in the world, behind Saudi Arabia.

These types of particles are small and fine, making it easier to affect the respiratory system and thus particularly dangerous to health.

Exposure to fine PM2.5 particles can cause coughing, shortness of breath, chronic bronchitis, reduced lung function, lung cancer and heart disease.

Recent research has also linked them to brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Qatar Foundation

QF solar project

Aware of the country’s dismal environmental record, Qatar has been working to invest more in renewable energy sources.

And last year, it signed onto the Paris Agreement, the first universal action plan to tackle global warming.

Thoughts?