Sidra Medical and Research Center (Sidra) has launched a child advocacy program dedicated to protecting children from abuse or neglect at home and in the community. The Sidra Child Advocacy Program (S-CAP) will be leading child protection efforts in Qatar and will be based at the Sidra Outpatient Clinic.
The launch of S-CAP follows a series of workshops held mid last year in collaboration with Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), where Sidra’s Division Chief of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Khalid Mohamed Al Ansari, first outlined his vision for a national child abuse prevention strategy and service network with health organizations at the forefront.
“The Sidra Child Advocacy Program is the culmination of a concerted effort to truly support the health, wellbeing and development of a child who has been the victim of abuse or neglect. We will provide the resources and support network to help children and families through what can be a distressing time. We are also extensively training our staff and working closely with other organizations to reinforce a team based approach that will ensure that the child’s needs and safety will always be a priority,” Dr. Al-Ansari said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines child abuse, also referred to as maltreatment, broadly, to include all forms of treatment which cause potential or actual harm to a child’s health, development or dignity. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, emotional abuse, and exploitation are all within this definition.
The S-CAP team consists of pediatric healthcare professionals including experts from medicine, nursing, social services, child life and psychiatric support services who specialize in the healing process for children and their families. Staff have been trained to recognize signs of abuse, including psychological abuse and neglect. They have also been trained about reporting and legal procedures, while complying with privacy and confidentiality requirements.
Alongside the essential role of doctors and medical staff in identifying and reporting child abuse, it is recognized that a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach among government, health and educational stakeholders from various institutions is needed. S-CAP will be the advocate in Qatar for children by coordinating the services needed for their safety and wellbeing. This will involve facilitating access to a comprehensive network of supportive and educational services to protect children and strengthen families and communities.
“We are working very closely with key stakeholders such as law enforcement and forensic medicine agencies under the Ministry of Interior, the Protection and Social Rehab Centre and the Family Consulting Center. Our close collaboration with government organizations and the wider community is based on developing and building a national effort committed to protecting and caring for children. It is important that victims of abuse or neglect as well as healthcare and social service professionals understand and feel assured that there are services and measures in place to help,” said Dr. Al-Ansari.
“The S-CAP program cannot work in isolation – it is a collective responsibility. I firmly believe it is our duty to educate the public, work closely with stakeholders and build awareness of this pressing issue. For such programs to be effective, it requires ongoing commitment from all partners to keep our children safe and to support with the healing process,” concluded Dr. Al-Ansari.
S-CAP will operate through a referral based system in partnership with other healthcare providers in Qatar. Referrals may come from within Sidra, HMC, primary health care centers, private hospitals and schools. Referrals can be made by phone or email during business hours. For more details, please contact +974 4003 7227 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.