The Ministers of Health of the GCC (Cooperation Council for the Arab Gulf States) countries, including Dr. Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Rabeeah, Minister of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as more than 400 delegates attended a major international conference in Saudi Arabia last week to discuss healthy lifestyles and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Arab world and Middle East.
The three-day event, held in Riyadh from 10-12 September, was organised by the Saudi Ministry of Health and the East Mediterranean Regional Office of the World Health Organization, with the cooperation of FIFA.
Scientific experts, United Nations representatives and key governmental figures from each Arab country were present to discuss issues at the conference, which was the next stage following the UN’s Political Declaration on the prevention of NCDs from September 2011.
Much of the discussion focused on addressing the causes of NCDs and identifying tangible responses, with several presentations explaining the four common risk factors.
Further sessions and roundtable forums explored the need to improve necessary actions involving tobacco control, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity.
FIFA’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jiri Dvorak, represented FIFA at the meeting and gave a speech on FIFA’s “11 for Health” program, an initiative of world football’s governing body which aims to improve children’s knowledge of health through the game.
Recognition of the project has steadily increased due to its success in a variety of countries across Africa, Oceania and South America.
Prof. Dvorak said: “The main objective of our participation in this conference was to help identify remedies to tackle the increasing recurrence of NCDs.
“We could showcase FIFA’s activities towards improving health standards through football, mainly through FIFA’s “11 for health” program which has been recognised as a ‘best-buy’ by the conference to educate children at low or even no cost.
“By contributing to the promotion of a healthier lifestyle, FIFA, thanks to the game of football and its popularity, impacts positively on society.”