Posted on April 01, 2020

Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) has devised a new elective course in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) so students can learn about the management of public health emergencies like the coronavirus outbreak.

Seven third-year medical students are already enrolled on the course, which was developed as quickly as possible to enable them to gain experience of working with the MOPH during the current outbreak, while also contributing to efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

While observing physical distancing protocols, the students will spend six hours a week at the Department of Public Health at the MOPH, spread over two days, as well as taking online lectures and seminars with WCM-Q faculty and participating in small-group discussion groups. While at the MOPH, the students will observe, interact and come to understand how a public health department manages the outbreak of an infectious disease, and will also have opportunities to contribute to the work of the department.

The elective, developed jointly by the MOPH and the Institute for Population Health (IPH) at WCM-Q will give the students a broad overview of public health aspects of infectious disease control, and explain the causes and characteristics of outbreaks, methods for investigating outbreaks, tools for managing outbreaks, and how to effectively communicate the outbreak risk to individual patients and the community at large.

Dr. Ravinder Mamtani, WCM-Q’s Professor of Healthcare Policy and Research, Professor of Medicine and Vice Dean for Student Affairs, Population Health, and Lifestyle Medicine; Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al-Thani, Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Public Health and Associate Professor of Healthcare Policy and Research at WCM-Q; and Dr. Sohaila Cheema, Director of the Institute for Population Health and Assistant Professor of Healthcare Policy and Research at WCM-Q, were instrumental in developing the elective.

Dr. Mamtani said: “Our students are highly motivated to help protect public health so we wanted to provide an opportunity for them to contribute to the measures to contain the virus, while also making the best of a difficult situation by providing them with valuable learning experience during the outbreak. An elective course seemed the most appropriate vehicle to achieve both aims. “I am very grateful to everyone at the MOPH for collaborating with us on this project and helping to get the elective up and running as quickly as possible. We believe the students can be of assistance while also learning a great deal about how public health emergencies are managed, which will be of benefit to the community in the future.”

The course is being directed and delivered by Dr. Mamtani, Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al-Thani, Dr. Sohaila Cheema, and Dr. Mohamud Verjee, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine and Assistant Dean, Student Affairs. Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al-Thani said: “This elective is an effective way for the Ministry of Public Health to help demonstrate to the next generation of doctors how we strategize to contain outbreaks of infectious diseases like Covid-19, which will be of great long-term benefit to the entire community in Qatar. We are also very pleased that the students are extremely keen to help and are making valuable contributions to our work.”

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