Sport for Health Conference kicks off at World Innovation Summit for Health

On the cusp of the FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022TM, partners at the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) in Qatar are hosting a Sport for Health Conference to highlight how football and other sport can boost physical activity and address serious global public health concerns.

The Sport for Health Conference aims to strengthen global efforts to decrease noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and promote positive mental health and well-being. NCDs and mental health conditions cause considerable suffering and are major burdens on health systems and communities globally, with one person under 70 years dying every two seconds from an NCD.

“Sport, such as football, can make a major contribution to improving public health by engaging people in regular, safe and social physical activity in their local communities which is one of the key recommendations outlined in the WHO Global Action Plan on Physical Activity” said Dr Fiona Bull, Head of the Physical Activity Unit at WHO

The three-day conference will feature global sport and health experts, scientists and policy-makers from the Commonwealth Secretariat, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Together, they will examine how the popularity of sport can be leveraged to benefit health and increase participation in sports, and how mega sports events can leave more sustainable legacies which strengthen community participation in physical activity into the future.

Regular physical activity and sports helps prevent and treat NCDs, and can also improve mental health and well-being. NCDs kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 74% of all deaths globally. Physical inactivity increases the risk of dying from an NCD. Today, one in four adults and four in five adolescents globally are not active enough and there has been little change in the average levels of physical activity over the last 15 years.

Qatar, like so many countries around the world, has seen a rise in noncommunicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in recent decades,” said Sheikh Dr Mohamed Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Director of Public Health Department at the Ministry of Public Health, Qatar.

“In Qatar, we understand the role that sport, physical activity and healthy lifestyles can have in halting this trend and our National Health Strategy and Public Health Strategy both place great priority on promoting the benefits of physical and healthy lifestyles to our population as a key approach to combatting noncommunicable diseases.”

Keynote speakers at the Sport for Health conference include: Nasser A. Al-Khori, Executive Director, Generation Amazing Foundation, who will share preparation and plans for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM legacy; Peter Krustrup (Denmark) who initiated the “Football is Medicine” research consortia of more than 200 researchers from 26 countries; and Matthew Philpott (UK), Executive Director, European Healthy Stadia Network CIC, who will share insights into how sports stadia venues can contribute to improving public health and raising levels of physical activity among populations.

“We are very happy to partner with the Ministry of Public Health and WHO to shed light on the importance of sport and the ways it can positively impact the health of individuals and communities,” said Nasser Al Khori, Executive Director at the Generation Amazing Foundation (GA). “Over the years, GA has developed programmes and tailored curricula to address a variety of social issues that impact youth and their well-being. We are excited to announce our latest module at the conference, which focuses on mental health and aims to provide sport for development practitioners with the knowledge and tools necessary to help cultivate self-awareness and influence positive behavioural change.”

The Football is Medicine 4th Annual Meeting which is into the Sport for Health Conference, will examine the scientific evidence of the benefits of football for healthy ageing, prevention and management of noncommunicable diseases, and positive mental health. Two practical football workshops will showcase how to offer safe, effective and enjoyable ways to be more active and improve mental and physical health of NCD patients and children of all abilities.

“Football is a strong and important tool for global health promotion. It is versatile, effective, fun and social, and it’s a global language,” said Peter Krustrup. “Football training is optimal for broad-spectrum prevention and treatment of noncommunicable diseases. “

The Sport for Health Conference, and the 4th Annual Meeting of Football is Medicine (FIM), is co-hosted by the World Health Organization, the Qatar Ministry of Public Health and Generation Amazing Foundation. It is an activity undertaken as part of the Healthy FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – Creating Legacy for Sport and Health Initiative, a partnership between WHO, FIFA, State of Qatar (Ministry of Public Health) and Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy.

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