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QRCS strategic partner of govt in fighting Covid-19: Dr al-Qahtani
As Qatar is redoubling its efforts in the face of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), the government authorities work together with the private sector and NGOs to serve the country and protect the population against the pandemic, says Dr Abdul-Salam al-Qahtani, board member of Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) and head of its Covid-19 Crisis Management Committee. “QRCS is a strategic partner of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and other government authorities,” he said. “We believe that NGOs are at all times a big asset for the public sector. Recently, we have been working closely with the MoPH, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, and the Ministry of Municipality and Environment. All our resources are devoted to the coronavirus control efforts." According to him, QRCS works at different levels. First, its medical professionals have been at the forefront of serving expatriate workers through four health centres in Mesaimeer, Fereej Abdul-Aziz, Al-Hemailah and Zekreet. In co-operation with the MoPH and Hamad Medical Corporation, two clinics were established for swabbing and triage at the Fereej Abdul-Aziz and Al-Hemailah health facilities. “Since the beginning of the crisis, QRCS’s physicians and nurses were deployed with the MoPH’s screening teams in all districts. Also, our ambulance service is there to give support where needed,” Dr al-Qahtani added. Currently, QRCS is operating the Mekaines quarantine facility, "taking care of literally everything – accommodation, catering, cleaning, security, admission, discharge and triage". “Our staff are trained to apply safety and protective measures. They are up to it, and we are sure of their success very soon,” he noted. “I would like to thank the MoPH for allowing us the opportunity to operate the Mekaines quarantine facility. This is a tangible example of co-operation towards our shared goal of meeting the needs of the community. We will continue to work hard in support of the public health sector,” he promised. Also, QRCS’s volunteers are providing vital services at quarantine hotels and facilities. They distribute food aid to the vulnerable families affected by the lockdown. At shopping centres, they are deployed to guide customers and ensure that social distancing is well maintained. Early in the crisis, QRCS’s board of directors created an ad hoc committee, comprising top officials and managers of the organisation. From Day 1, they had an action plan that involved six aspects: training, public information, co-operation with other partners, alignment of available personnel, application of safety precautions at health centres, and operation of quarantine facilities. The committee holds weekly meetings to follow up on all relevant strategic and operational issues. Dr al-Qahtani hailed the support from the business sector, as well as the collective approach of the Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis. “In this and other difficult situations, the Qatari NGOs have always joined hands for the best interest of everyone. Both the donors and contributing NGOs deserve to be thanked,” he said. QRCS has a contingency plan that considers all possibilities, including the worst-case scenario for coronavirus. “It depends on how things will turn out later. We pray for an end to this pandemic,” Dr al-Qahtani concluded.