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Story | Research
18 December 2019

Child safety in focus at QF’s Darb Al Saai tent


Two Sidra Medicine initiatives highlight measures designed to protect children in Qatar

“This is probably, in my opinion, the single most important event where you can reach the greatest number of families and residents in Qatar, at one point in time,” says Dr. Leena Amine, manager of the Qatar Poison Center at Sidra Medicine, a Qatar Foundation member.

Dr. Amine is part of the team who leads Sidra Medicine’s Qatar Poison Center, which has a booth set up in QF’s tent at Darb Al Saai as the nation celebrates Qatar National Day on December 18.

And she says: “You can advertise all you want. You can print billboards and banners, you can send WhatsApp messages. But when you make the human connection, look someone in the eye and let them know that we’re here to serve the entire population, and that we’re just a phone call away, the impact is tremendous.

“We are Qatar’s first and only poison control center helpline and we serve the entire nation. And the public response has been positive since we started in 2018.

“Poison exposure is a common occurrence in any population – it can range from accidental ingestion of detergents or cleaning liquids, overdose of medicines, to envenomations. When that happens, we receive phone calls from the parents or caregivers, or the poisoned people themselves.

“On all occasions, we guide the caller on the exact steps to be taken following the discovery of the exposure, what to watch out for during the next few hours or days, and whether or not they need to seek emergency care. Most people are surprised to know that 90 percent of poison exposures do not require a visit to the emergency department.”

The center can be contacted on 40031111 over a 16-hour period - from 9am-1am - every day.

Dr. Tawny Lowe, a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, is overseeing another Sidra Medicine initiative that has a booth at the ongoing edition at Darb al Saii – its Child Advocacy Program (S-CAP).

“Our initiatives focus on the protection and safety of children,” says Dr. Lowe. “The topics covered range from safety around a swimming pool to child abuse, including shaken baby syndrome.

“Our team works to raise awareness among caregivers and the community. They should know how to identify a child who may have been abused, and will need help, and how to access our services.

“We also collaborate with various entities such as the Protection and Social Rehabilitation Centre (AMAN), Ministry of Public Health and schools to make sure that children who may have been abused and their families receive the best support possible.

“Sidra’s Child Advocacy Program is accessible to anyone who lives in Qatar. We have a helpline, 40034000, which the public – adults and children - can use to reach us. As awareness of our services increase, both the public and stakeholders are reaching out to us. And our presence at Darb Al Saai takes us even closer to children who need our help.”

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Sidra Medicine’s booths at Darb Al Saai are part of the activities and awareness initiatives offered at the QF tent. Both Dr. Lowe and Dr. Amine agree that the venue allows them the sort of interaction that would be difficult to have elsewhere.

“It’s been just a few days, but parents have already approached us,” says Dr. Amine. “Some of them tell us they’re so pleased that services such as these exist. I even had a parent come up to me, clasp my hand and say, ‘I called the helpline once, when my child swallowed something harmful – and it was such a relief to have an expert guide us on what to do to help our child’.

“It’s incredibly gratifying to hear that – and it’s something we wouldn’t have heard if we hadn’t been at this QF pavilion at Darb Al Saai.”

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