Professor Sir Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer of NHS England, has visited Bradford, speaking with local health professionals and community leaders on Thursday.
As part of the visit, Sir Whitty was shown around the clinical research facility at Bradford Teaching Hospitals where he was accompanied by Professor John Wright, Director Bradford Institute of Health research and Sarah Muckle, Director of Public Health for Bradford district.
He met with staff at the hospital where he spoke with them about their experiences of working through the pandemic.
Sir Whitty also visited Al-Mustafa Centre in Girlington where he was given an overview of the partnership work that is being conducted by mosques and madrassas in the district to help tackle obesity, particularly among children.
Imam Sajid Safdar of Masjid-E-Umar, part of the Girlington Muslim Welfare Association (GMWA), led the conversation around the work his mosque is doing to tackle health inequalities in the local area and the importance of utilising Islamic institutions in health campaigns.
Imam Safdar said: “Professor Whitty visited us on Thursday to hear about our work targeting childhood obesity and promoting the drinking of water through an Islamic perspective.
“Along with Al-Mustafa centre, we highlighted the work that we have been doing and he is impressed that madrassas and mosques are big entities in the community and that we are helping to promote good health.
“He was keen to hear our stories and it showcased how Islamic Institutes can play a vital part in promoting good health and tackling obesity in the community. During the pandemic, a lot of people were fearful of coming out, we want people to be healthy, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and the mosque is the link between spiritually and getting physically active.”
He added: “Last month we ran a campaign to promote the importance of drinking water. During the Christmas holiday, we had a challenge for the children that they had to drink eight cups of water a day. We had about 130 children who have given up their pop and fizzy drinks, and now on their dinner table, they have water.
“After Ramadan, we are running a mothers and daughters walking group, where every Sunday, women and girls will meet up at the mosque and go for a walk in the local park and other green spaces.”
Director of Public Health for Bradford District, Sarah Muckle, said: “It was a privilege to welcome Sir Chris to our district and we were proud to show off some of the great work we are doing in Bradford to tackle health inequalities such as obesity and the promotion of clean air zones.
“Sir Chris was particularly interested in the industry-leading work being undertaken by our research centre in the field of Genes and Immunology.”