Posted on March 26, 2019

On the sidelines of the International Biobanking Conference 2019, Qatar Biobank –a member of Qatar Foundation, and part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development, and Innovation – released its annual report for 2018.

The report provides a wide-ranging health profile and analysis of more than 18,000 Qatarisand long-term residents who have participated in the institution’s medical health research initiative. Itpaints a concerning picture of the local population’s health, including that ofQataris over 18 years and adult expatriates who have lived in Qatar for more than 15 years. Among the participantsin the ongoing study being conducted by Qatar Biobank, 38 percent reported no participation in any physical exercise at all, and 43 percent were recorded as overweight or obese.

Only 12 percent of participants have normal Vitamin D levels, while 25 percent have mild deficiency levels. A further 50 percent have a moderate deficiency level of Vitamin D, while 13 percent were found to have severe deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is related to several chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular, and inflammatory diseases. The demographic data obtained from the registration process shows that a similar number of men (49 percent) and women (51 percent) participated in the study, with the highest number of both men and women registering in the age group 25-34.

Dr. Nahla Afifi, Director of Qatar Biobank, said: “The report not only helps us better understand the health of the participants, but also provides useful insights into the health of the entire population. “The findings are empowering new research in Qatar, which will play an important role in early identification of health problems and taking effective preventative measures. This, in essence, is the primary goal behind Qatar Biobank’s endeavor to collect information and samples from the population.”

The annual reportalso includes a detailed overview of the achievements of Qatar Biobank throughout 2018, and Dr. Afifi said: “The report is an important learning resource for everyone in Qatar, and can provide insights for members of the community on how to live healthier lives by slightly adjusting their lifestyles.” A second major study,which Qatar Biobank successfully developed in July 2018, is the Qatar Birth Cohort Study (QbiC). Itis the first mother-child cohort study of its kind in the Middle East, and aims to assess the synergetic role of environmental exposure and genetic factors in the development of chronic disease. It monitors the health of women and children, and obstetric characteristics with high prevalence.

“By generating a comprehensive picture of the environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors that contribute to health issues facing the local population from the start of their lives, we can begin to help researchers and healthcare providers make better diagnoses and provide better treatments for diseases affecting the health of Qatar’s population,” said Dr. Afifi. Qatar Biobank will continue to collect biological samples from Qataris and long-term residents to enable vital medical research that will enable better healthcare diagnosis and outcomes, and, in turn, a healthier population.