QEERI/MoPH workshop advances wastewater-based surveillance

QEERI and MoPH Host Workshop on Wastewater-Based Surveillance

11 Jun 2024

Event focussed on advancing public health and environmental sustainability in Qatar

Workshop participants

The Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI) at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), recently hosted a workshop titled Wastewater-based Surveillance: One-Health Approach and National Impact.

The event brought together leading experts, researchers, and stakeholders from the public health and environmental sustainability sectors including the Ministry of Interior, Qatar Airways, Hamad Medical Corporation, Naufar Hospital, Weill Cornell Medicine Qatar, and Ginko Bioworks. Participants explored the transformative potential of wastewater monitoring in disease surveillance and community health assessment. They also  engaged in discussions and workshops focused on cutting-edge methodologies and case studies, unveiling the power of wastewater-based epidemiology in tracking disease outbreaks, identifying emerging pathogens, and assessing community health dynamics.

Wastewater-based surveillance (WBS) has emerged as a vital tool in global public health efforts. Through the adoption of WBS, we can proactively identify outbreak trends, target prevention measures effectively, and gain valuable insights into disease transmission dynamics, complementing traditional public health surveillance methods. Monitoring wastewater for pathogens like COVID-19, polio, influenza, monkeypox and norovirus, among others, offers significant value in detecting diseases within communities even before clinical cases are reported. This proactive approach provides vital information for informed public health decision-making and measures.

“Wastewater-based surveillance is a valuable tool for public health and environmental sustainability, offering a unique perspective on community health trends and disease patterns," said Dr. Tareq Al-Ansari, Acting Executive Director of QEERI. "This workshop emphasized the scientific and research aspects of WBS, highlighting its benefits to the community, as well as the importance of collaboration among leading experts and stakeholders. By utilizing modern research methodologies in wastewater monitoring, we are making significant progress in early disease detection and proactive public health measures."

Expressing enthusiasm for the event’s outcomes, Dr. Khaled Mahmoud, Research Program Director and WBS project lead, QEERI, added: "The workshop provided a platform for robust discussions and knowledge sharing among experts in the field. By leveraging research expertise in wastewater-based surveillance, we are poised to revolutionize disease monitoring and enhance public health interventions in Qatar."

Dr. Hamad Al-Romaihi, Director of the Health Protection & Communicable Disease Control Department at MOPH, said, “Reflecting on the significance of WBS, the invaluable partnership and joint efforts between the MOPH and HBKU stood as a cornerstone in safeguarding public health and the community in Qatar, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and the historic FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. As we move forward, we will continue to be dedicated to advancing our national disease surveillance systems and fostering sustained collaborations with environmental partners to optimize our efforts in combating emerging pathogens and re-emerging infectious diseases."

The collaboration between QEERI and the Ministry of Public Health underscores a shared commitment to advancing research and innovation in public health surveillance and environmental protection. It was agreed in the workshop that wastewater-based surveillance should support national efforts to control high-risk diseases including respiratory viruses such as Sars-Cov-2, as well as polio and antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Qatar Environment & Energy Research Institute (QEERI), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), is a national research institute tasked with supporting Qatar in addressing its grand challenges related to energy, water, and environment.