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WCM-Q at the forefront of global push towards lifestyle medicine

Dr. Javaid I. Sheikh, Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (second from right, one row from bottom) with other participants of the Certificate in Lifestyle Medicine program.
Dr. Javaid I. Sheikh, Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (second from right, one row from bottom) with other participants of the Certificate in Lifestyle Medicine program.

Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) is now one of the leaders of a global movement towards lifestyle medicine, thanks to a groundbreaking certificate program developed by the college’s Institute for Population Health.

The 60-hour Certificate in Lifestyle Medicine program provides healthcare professionals with the skills and knowledge to use lifestyle medicine approaches such as eating a healthy, balanced diet, regular physical exercise, and tobacco cessation to prevent and treat serious diseases like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes.

The latest edition of the certificate program concluded recently and attracted record numbers of participants, thanks in part to it being offered fully online for the first time, owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to providing guidance on nutrition, exercise and substance misuse, the program also explains the benefits of healthy sleeping habits, social connectedness and stress management.

The program is part of a wider drive by the Institute for Population Health at WCM-Q to help promote a global trend towards the integration of lifestyle medicine approaches into conventional healthcare, which has typically emphasized treatment of disease by means of drug therapies and surgery.

Dr. Ravinder Mamtani, Vice Dean for Student Affairs-Admissions, Population Health, and Lifestyle Medicine, said: “Despite the devastating impact of COVID-19, the leading causes of long-term illness and premature death remain noncommunicable diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. A wealth of scientific evidence shows us that these diseases can be very effectively treated, prevented and sometimes even reversed using lifestyle medicine approaches. Healthcare systems across the world are beginning to embrace lifestyle medicine approaches and we at the IPH are working hard to support this global movement.”

Dr. Ahmad Al-Mulla, Advisor to HE Minister of Public Health and Senior Consultant Public Health and Disease Control, who delivered a lecture of tobacco cessation at the latest edition of the Certificate in Lifestyle Medicine, said: “The State of Qatar is dedicated to empowering both healthcare professionals and the general population here in Qatar and across the MENA region to use lifestyle medicine approaches to improve human health. The Certificate in Lifestyle Medicine of WCM-Q has been extremely successful as a means of supporting local healthcare professionals to follow the best evidence-based practices to make lifestyle medicine interventions as effective as possible.”

Dr. Al-Mulla also explained that there is growing public appetite in Qatar for lifestyle medicine approaches. “We now have record numbers of people voluntarily attending our tobacco cessation clinics,” he said. “It is extremely encouraging to see so many people embracing healthy lifestyles to protect their own health and that of their families.”

The certificate program has also been designed to support the public health goals set out in Qatar National Vision 2030 and Qatar’s National Health Strategy 2018-2022, put forward by the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH).

Commenting on the relevance of the certificate, Dr. Sohaila Cheema, Assistant Dean for the Institute for Population Health, said: “Lifestyle medicine is a powerful tool for preventing and treating disease and we feel strongly that we have a moral obligation to help lead its promotion locally, regionally and globally. And we at Cornell are at the forefront of this movement.”