'RunQ8 grown to be­come a much an­tipated an­nual char­ity evebt in Kuwait'

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL -

KUWAIT: The fol­low­ing is an in­ter­view with Dr El­ham Al-Ham­dan, Co-Founder, Pres­i­dent and Med­i­cal Di­rec­tor of Fawzia Sul­tan Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion In­sti­tute(FSRI): Ques­tion: When was the Fawzia Sul­tan Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion In­sti­tute es­tab­lished, and what is the In­sti­tute’s goal? Dr Ham­dan:

Fawzia Sul­tan Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion In­sti­tute (FSRI) opened its doors in 2006. Orig­i­nally our mis­sion was to pro­vide spe­cial­ized phys­io­ther­apy ser­vices, as we had no­ticed that this was miss­ing within the county’s health­care land­scape. How­ever we quickly re­al­ized that there was a greater and deeper need within the com­mu­nity for com­pre­hen­sive med­i­cal ser­vices and in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary care. From that point, our mis­sion de­vel­oped quickly and or­gan­i­cally, and we grew to be­come a holis­tic med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tion that pro­vides high qual­ity, mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary ser­vices. Our ap­proach has al­ways been fo­cused on in­te­grated and multi-dis­ci­plinary care, and over the years we have grown the prac­tice, ven­tur­ing into speech and lan­guage ther­apy, psy­chol­ogy, fam­ily medicine, car­di­ol­ogy and nu­tri­tion. Across all our de­part­ments and ar­eas of spe­cialty, we still main­tain our ded­i­ca­tion to an in­te­grated, pa­tient-fo­cused ap­proach. We are also fo­cused on serv­ing as a re­gional hub for health and well­ness, re­search, ed­u­ca­tion and ad­vo­cacy.

Ques­tion: How does FSRI op­er­ate as a non­profit In­sti­tute? Dr Ham­dan:

FSRI was es­tab­lished and con­tin­ues to op­er­ate as a non-profit in­sti­tute; till this day, FSRI is the only or­ga­ni­za­tion of its kind in Kuwait. All the money that is gen­er­ated at the In­sti­tute through its de­part­ments, com­mu­nity outreach and fundrais­ing ef­forts - is rein­vested back into the or­ga­ni­za­tion. The funds are then used to cover run­ning costs and ex­penses, in­vest in ex­pan­sion and de­vel­op­ment, and help pro­vide treat­ment to pa­tients with lim­ited fi­nan­cial means. They are also used to drive our numer­ous pub­lic health ed­u­ca­tion, re­search and ad­vo­cacy pro­grams.

Ques­tion: Why did you start a sep­a­rate chil­dren’s cen­ter? Dr Ham­dan:

We opened the Chil­dren Eval­u­a­tion and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­ter (CERC) in 2013 to help us pro­vide the high­est qual­ity spe­cial­ized care pos­si­ble for chil­dren. Our goal from the out­set was to pro­vide as­sess­ment, treat­ment and in­ter­ven­tions for chil­dren, to en­able them to live the most in­de­pen­dent life pos­si­ble re­gard­less of their con­di­tions. Due to the num­ber of chil­dren we were see­ing, and the unique needs they have, it was only nat­u­ral for us to set up a sep­a­rate fa­cil­ity ded­i­cated to best serve the needs of the pe­di­atric pop­u­la­tion.

Our team of pe­di­atric spe­cial­ists pro­vides com­pre­hen­sive ther­apy pro­grams for ba­bies, chil­dren and young adults across a num­ber of ar­eas; this in­cludes phys­i­cal ther­apy, speech pathol­ogy, coun­sel­ing and oc­cu­pa­tional ther­apy. We of­fer spe­cial­ized and com­pre­hen­sive ther­apy for chil­dren with a range of com­plex needs and con­di­tions, in­clud­ing chil­dren with­out a for­mal di­ag­no­sis, who might also ben­e­fit from CERC’s ser­vices. One-to-one and group ses­sions are avail­able, as well as com­plete as­sess­ments and treat­ments out of the cen­ter for chil­dren with spe­cial cases.

RunQ8 Ques­tion: Tell us about RunQ8. When did it start, and what was the mo­ti­va­tion be­hind it? Dr Ham­dan:

We started RunQ8 back in 2010 with the sup­port and back­ing of Agility, the race’s found­ing part­ner and old­est sup­porter. When it be­gan, RunQ8 was a small char­ity race, but it has grown to be­come one of the most an­tic­i­pated an­nual char­ity sport­ing events in Kuwait, at­tract­ing more than 1800 par­tic­i­pants last year. It has also be­come a land­mark lo­cal ini­tia­tive pro­vid­ing sup­port for chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties in Kuwait.

Ini­tially, we cre­ated RunQ8 as a com­mu­nity ini­tia­tive to drive aware­ness about dif­fer­ent is­sues. For the first two years of the race, we had part­nered with the Min­istry of Health and the Min­istry of In­te­rior to raise aware­ness and money for the is­sues of eye health and traf­fic safety re­spec­tively. Dur­ing this time, we were see­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of chil­dren at our clinic that re­quired re­ha­bil­i­ta­tive care. Some of the treat­ment re­quired by the chil­dren we treat is highly spe­cial­ized and com­plex, due to the na­ture of their con­di­tion and the need for long-term, multi-dis­ci­plinary care. Un­for­tu­nately, this meant that many fam­i­lies of­ten found them­selves un­able to af­ford the nec­es­sary treat­ment. There­fore, for the past four years, RunQ8 has been used as a plat­form to raise aware­ness and funds for CERC, sup­port­ing the cen­ter and pro­vid­ing sub­si­dized, and some­times free, treat­ment for fam­i­lies fac­ing fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties.

Through the funds raised from RunQ8, last year we were able to treat 20% of the chil­dren for free and pro­vide sub­si­dized treat­ment for 60% of the chil­dren treated at CERC. The raised funds have also en­abled us to con­tinue to grow and en­hance the qual­ity of care we pro­vide, pro­vid­ing the means to do a num­ber of things, in­clud­ing: pur­chase more spe­cial­ized equip­ment; em­ploy spe­cial­ized staff- who treat pa­tients and also train other clin­i­cians within our or­ga­ni­za­tion and from the lo­cal health­care com­mu­nity; set up a spe­cial­ized me­dia treat­ment room thanks to the sup­port and funds pro­vided by Bur­gan Bank; de­velop a vol­un­teer pro­gram; and even de­velop pa­tient ed­u­ca­tion plat­forms - in­clud­ing a YouTube chan­nel and an on­go­ing Med­i­cal Di­waniya pro­gram.

Ques­tion: Is this year’s race any dif­fer­ent? And is the race open to ev­ery­one? Dr Ham­dan:

We are very ex­cited about this year’s race as it is the first time we are of­fer­ing a 5 km chipped dis­tance. For those ea­ger to do a long dis­tance event in the fu­ture, this is a great way to ease into it and pre­pare to do 10 km next year. We also have in­tro­duced a mas­ter’s cat­e­gory for par­tic­i­pants aged 55 and over; this is es­pe­cially sig­nif­i­cant as we are hop­ing to pro­mote aware­ness of healthy age­ing. While we have a great base of avid run­ners and com­pet­i­tive ath­letes who come out and sup­port us ev­ery year, RunQ8 is also a fun run and walk that any­one can par­take in. Re­gard­less of your back­ground, age or fit­ness level, you can par­tic­i­pate in the event and help raise aware­ness and funds for an im­por­tant cause, and you don’t even need to cross the fin­ish line. It is sim­ply a great day for in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies to come to­gether, en­joy them­selves and be a part of a com­mu­nity ini­tia­tive. Reg­is­tra­tion is now open for the two dis­tances, 5km and 10km, and par­tic­i­pants can sign up via the of­fi­cial web­site ( You can also call FSRI (at 25720338 or 25721757) for more in­for­ma­tion, or fol­low @run­q8of­fi­cial and @fsri on Instagram to get the lat­est news and up­dates.

Ques­tion: On a fi­nal note, can you tell us what re­search and com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives does FSRI par­tic­i­pate in? Dr Ham­dan:

FSRI is highly ac­tive within the thriv­ing civic so­ci­ety in Kuwait, of­ten part­ner­ing with many other non-prof­its and NGOs in the coun­try who share sim­i­lar goals and val­ues. The In­sti­tute main­tains a rich and di­verse pro­gram of com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives, which aims to raise aware­ness and rally sup­port for a myr­iad of top­ics af­fect­ing our so­ci­ety - in­clud­ing chil­dren’s re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, health and well­ness, pre­ven­ta­tive medicine, women’s health and much more. Some of FSRI’s ini­tia­tives in­clude free lec­tures, train­ing pro­grams and work­shop, a num­ber of ed­u­ca­tional so­cial me­dia chan­nels, and much more. Our goal through all these ini­tia­tives is to in­crease pub­lic aware­ness about the most press­ing health con­cerns in Kuwait, and to em­power the lo­cal com­mu­nity with the nec­es­sary knowl­edge to en­able them to live health­ier lives.

We also strive to be a re­gional hub for health­care ed­u­ca­tion and re­search. FSRI also sup­ports lo­cal re­searchers and clin­i­cians, by work­ing to­gether and mak­ing low cost train­ing avail­able through­out the year, in or­der to build the ca­pac­ity of health care providers in Kuwait. We also carry out a num­ber of clin­i­cal re­search ef­forts and clin­i­cal stud­ies fo­cus­ing on key health­care is­sues in Kuwait, in or­der to sup­port ev­i­dence-based prac­tice in the coun­try.

Dr El­ham Al-Ham­dan Ini­tia­tives

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