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Friday, September 17, 2021

Nurseries told to remove soft toys from establishments

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Stuffed animals

With reporting from Riham Sheble

Nurseries across Qatar have recently been told by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) that they are no longer allowed to have any soft toys onsite – including children’s personal belongings that are brought from home.

The decision is the latest in a series of new rules introduced in nurseries as the ministry tightens regulations on the institutions.

New legislation governing childcare establishments in Qatar was introduced at the beginning of this year, and MOLSA officials have been conducting regular spot checks to ensure that nurseries are complying with the law.

At the end of April, MOLSA wrote to all nurseries informing them that they were banned from organizing field trips or arranging “dangerous” activities such as swimming – a decision which caused confusion among nursery managers over which water activities were permissible.

Soft toy

The reasons behind the introduction of the latest decision on soft toys have also been unclear to many nurseries. Some report having been given no reason at all for the verbal ruling.

When contacted by Doha News, a MOLSA official said the reason for the soft toy ban was “to prevent asthma and in case any of the toys are infected or contaminated with germs.”

The official added that “nurseries cannot have any of these items, and children cannot bring them in from home.”

A 2006 study of Qatar schoolchildren (aged 6-14 years) by Dr. Ibrahim A. Janahi, head of pediatric pulmonary department at Hamad Hospital at the time, found that nearly one fifth (19.8 percent) had asthma.

While this figure is similar to other GCC countries (Oman had a rate of 20.7 percent), it is ahead of many other developing countries. A Weill Cornell report attributes the asthma in part to Qatar’s air pollution.

Effects

Raana Nasir, co-owner and manager of Treehouse Nursery in West Bay, said she got verbal notification of the new decision last month during a routine inspection by MOLSA staff.

The inspector spotted a six-month-old baby with a soft toy brought in from home and told Nasir that no soft toys were allowed – even as comforters or sleep aids for babies.

However, the MOLSA official who spoke to Doha News could not confirm if small blankets and comforters were also covered by the ban.

Speaking to Doha News, Nasir said:

“I don’t have soft toys in my nursery – I only have toys which can be wiped clean every day.

But this was a baby with its own toy, which isn’t shared with other children. I asked the inspector why the toy wasn’t allowed, but she wouldn’t give me a reason.”

Nasir said she had to advise the baby’s parents that the toy was no longer allowed – even for sleeping.

She added, “Maybe if it was a toy that was going to be shared with other children, the decision would make sense. But in this case, I can’t understand the reason.”

Another manager of a popular nursery, who asked not to be named, said she had planned to host a teddy bear’s picnic day, with the children bringing in their own soft toys for the party. But then the manager was told by MOLSA this would not be allowed.

The nursery had to change its plans, and wrote to all parents earlier this week to advise them of the new rule. Speaking to Doha News, the manager said:

“There are new decisions all the time. Now we go every month to the ministry, sit with them and find out what will and will not be allowed. It’s the only way to make sure our planned activities are approved.

Otherwise, it has been difficult for nurseries to get clear guidelines.”

However, she added that recently she had noted some improvement in MOLSA’s communication with nurseries.

International rules

The ban on soft toys in Qatar nurseries is not one practiced across the board in other countries. The UK’s National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) states that such toys are permissible, but adds in a fact sheet to nursery managers that the toys should be machine washable.

Guidance from the country’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) also requires that nurseries have a regular cleaning schedule for soft toys.

Official advice from the US state of Wisconsin to childcare providers similarly advises regular washing and sanitation of cloth toys.

New legislation

In January, Qatar passed Law No. 1 of 2014, putting into effect new restrictions governing nurseries. The six-month grace period that was given to nurseries to comply with the new law is set to expire in mid-June.

There are several new provisions in the law, including that:

  • Nurseries must now only accept children below four years of age. Under the law, a child must attend a kindergarten as soon as they turn four.
  • All staff directly involved in the care of children must be female. In addition, each nursery must have a qualified female manager, a female supervisor, a female nurse and a female nutritionist. The law says the qualifications required for these staff “are to be decided by the minister.”
  • Other required staff, including a driver, cleaners, security staff and a visiting doctor, may be male.

Last month, MOLSA hired 18 inspectors into its Department of Family Development to ensure nurseries are complying with the new regulations.

However, many nurseries report regular spot inspections for many months now.

Thoughts?

67 COMMENTS

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AEC
AEC
7 years ago

And the next rule will be no children.

Chilidog
Chilidog
7 years ago
Reply to  AEC

Don’t tell MOLSA that germs exist on kids too, or kids will be the next items banned from nurseries. Man, I hope they don’t find out!

Huzz
Huzz
7 years ago
Reply to  Chilidog

Children are ok if they are machine washable. Just dont use the car horn outside the dry cleaners to attract the shop owners attention.

Amanda
Amanda
7 years ago

Seriously ???? Do they have any understanding of children at all!!!!

NAMA
NAMA
7 years ago

i dont care.. i agree with all there rules as long as the place is safe for my children. after the Villagio tragedy, i automatically agree with all their rules and support all their decesions

Illusionist's wife
Illusionist's wife
7 years ago

This doesn’t make sense at all… My nursery is giving me the blanket and pillow that my son uses to sleep with every week to wash it, so that it is clean and hygienic. A soft toy can be washed as well, just take it every week home and put it in the washing machine. For a baby, something that calms him or her down is important – and that includes their favourite soft toy. I am really sorry, but this is a rule I cannot and will not understand. Asthma comes more from the air pollution here than from soft toys …

Jaded
Jaded
7 years ago

phew, finally they tackled the issue of deadly teddy bears

Jimjam
Jimjam
7 years ago

Its all part of a master plan. They are going to take the soft toys and use them as cushions on building sites to reduce the number of deaths to labourers when they fall from scaffolding. Joined-up government at its best.

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago

If there are doubts that these toys might be behind a recent surge in asthma cases for kids, or, in general, if there are reports that these toys might create any type of health issues for kids, then this decision is the right one. From the article we can also see that the position of the UK regarding toys is a cautious one, even though it does not ban them.

Let’s not criticize everything coming from Qatar. If this came from a Western country no one would say anything about it. I’d say Qatar is on par and ahead of many Western countries in terms of healthcare.

Jaded
Jaded
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

If this came from a western country you can bet there would be a reaction, petitions etc to arrive at a better solution that deals with any potential problem.

The UK stance is a sensible one as they’ve chosen a route that addresses a potential healthcare issue. Banning anything that is potentially not ok will eventually leave very few things allowed

Huzz
Huzz
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

I would guess that they are good dealing with child trauma given the lack of child seats and quality driving.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Huzz

They pick the soft battle. Can tell nurseries no play things that are soft because We’d rather have our children flying thru a hard windshield. Because then we’d have to tell a Qatari what to do and they don’t like being told what to do.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

The only thing is the “west” is toys with small parts that might be swallowed. And to say no one in the dreaded “west” would say anything shows you know little of western society… Who do you think most of the people on here criticizing this move are from? The moon?

Just when I think I’ve heard / seen it all I’m yet again amazed. The more I stay, the more amazed I become.

(That was my lead in for LoveItOrLeaveIt.)

Restie
Restie
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

You don’t need LoveItOrLeaveIt to tell you what majority of people would recommend you do in such circumstances.

If you keep being amazed in a negative manner, you are to blame for not taking remedial action and finding a new home. Good luck.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Restie

So is that what you’d tell the other commentators on this story? I’d say most of them are amazed as well.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Yes, but you’re the only commentator who manages to turn everything into an insult… I suggest you convert all that negative energy into something positive… maybe start baking or something

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I’d say 90% of the comments on here could be considered “insulting”

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Yes, but I have to hand it to you: you manage to really rub it in… Then again, I can’t help but agree with Noam Chomsky:

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all”.

That doesn’t mean I despise you of course. You’re probably a great guy in person, but, seriously, not all Qataris are stupid, and not all of them got to where they are today because of their nationality. I find it insulting that many think that is the case.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I’ve never once said that Qataris are stupid. I’ve inferred that many are…forget it. And you

just said it “MANY think that is the case” but somehow I’m the evil one.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Listen, I did not mean to offend you in any way, and I apologise that it came out that way. I admit, I probably was too harsh, but I just felt many of your inferences towards Qataris, remember I’m one of them, along with my parents and the rest of my family, are kind of negative. It struck a chord, that’s all, and I’m sure you probably did not mean to target anyone in particular. Again, as I said earlier, you have the right to express your views, and I guess I have the right to feel insulted.

Chilidog
Chilidog
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

You really believe Qatar is ahead of many Western countries in terms of healthcare? Is that why so many Qataris take government funded “medical vacations?” Is that why a friend took his son back to the US for treament instead of waiting months for an appointment wtih a specialist? I could go on with more examples. I think you’re quite mistaken. It’s true you can get the basics here in crowded facilities, but I wouldn’t go touting it beyond that at all.

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago
Reply to  Chilidog

I have been using the medical services in this country frequently and for three years, both in the private and public sector, for myself and for my wife, and for many different health-related issues. I have never had any terrible experience. Some places are better than others, but the overall service is very good.

As for the crowded facilities, unfortunately the Supreme Health Council finds it extremely challenging to cope with the ever-increasing influx of immigrants, and it is not their fault. Do you think Luxembourg, Malta or Estonia (I am mentioning Western countries with relatively the same population size) can cope with a 10% population increase every year? I doubt it.

Your experience (or your friend’s) is a bad thing but is definitely not the norm here. Healthcare in this country is almost free to everyone, and most of us get private health insurance from their companies. I lived in the UK for 16 months and as a student I had to pay 7.5 pounds tax for every medicine I buy, even if the medicine value is 2 pounds. The facilities I used to visit (in Harrow, London) are nothing close to the ones here. They are also crowded with patients. I feel safer here and I know that if something wrong happens I will be treated with the latest technology by knowledgeable doctors for free.

kubaru
kubaru
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Let me remind you, that it is Qatar government decision to regulate increase of population, and not a chaotic situation of sudden influx of refugees. . It is the government decision to grant 100K visas for families and it is government who decides if and where new health centres/schools/other facilities will be built.

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago
Reply to  kubaru

Yes, but since it has been done in a relatively chaotic way so far, you cannot blame the Supreme Health Council or the hospitals themselves. The errors come from higher up.

kubaru
kubaru
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Nobody is blaming overflowing hospitals – they are just trying to pick up the pieces. But the SHC IS the part of the government, and it is their collective responsibility to think and act. Not after expats and workers arrive, but earlier. Where are they going to be housed? How will they be transported? What about schools? Kindergartens? What about health centres? And so on. Really you don’t need to rediscover America for that…

So it is the system to be blamed alone – unfortunately for Qatari authorities an argument whch might be used by some 90% of other governments, that is the lack of resources, does not apply here. They bag enormous budget surpluses every year, don’t they?

AEC
AEC
7 years ago
Reply to  Chilidog

Depends what you’re comparing. Qatar does have a lower child mortality rate now than the US.

Chilidog
Chilidog
7 years ago
Reply to  AEC

I haven’t seen any data, but I’m not surprised to hear that Qatar has a lower child mortality rate than the US. Babies are born in the US to a wide cross section of demographics (rich, poor, young, old, illegals, urban, rural, etc.). In Qatar, I’d guess that (again, without data) children are born mostly to a more healthy and wealthy cross-section of poplulation than in the US. My guess is that the local population actually drives the rate down due to less diversity in the gene pool (is that an acceptable way to describe it?) when you compare it to the “Western” expat population. So I don’t believe this is a good apples to apples comparison betwen Qatar and any first-world nation. Therefore, I don’t believe a comparison of child mortality rate is indicative of the comparative level of overall healthcare quality you can expect to receive.

AEC
AEC
7 years ago
Reply to  Chilidog

And of course the US is probably a poor comparison for “Western”. The Commonwealth Fund survey is probably the most useful comparison between countries and in that (1) the US does not do so well & (2) Qatar is not included.
http://www.commonwealthfund.org/interactives-and-data/international-survey-data

kubaru
kubaru
7 years ago
Reply to  Chilidog

I would not be using child mortality rates to compare any counties, unless I would have been satisfied as to details of death reporting. Some countries register child as life birth in different circumstance than others, for example.

AEC
AEC
7 years ago
Reply to  AEC

Life expectancy and obesity rates are about the same for both countries.

Kingpin
Kingpin
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

The National Day Nurseries Association is a charity, providing advice, therefore it is mendacious that Doha News comment on it under a sub heading of “International Rules”. The “UK” has no stance on soft toys.

A unwashed soft toy has as much chance of carrying dust mites or bacteria as a child’s clothing. The are both made from similar material, and the advice for both are pretty much the same. Make sure they are machine washable, unless your recommend that a clothing ban should also be in place? Saying that Qatar is on par and ahead of many Western countries in terms of healthcare is also wrong when the leading cause of death (54%) of under 4 year olds in this country is caused by road traffic accidents.

https://dohanews.co/to-curb-injuries-among-kids-hmc-trains-qatars-first-carseat-technicians/

A truly shocking statistic, and for comparison the leading cause of death in the UK of under 4’s (19%) is chromosomal abnormalities and deformations.

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/mortality-statistics–deaths-registered-in-england-and-wales–series-dr-/2012/sty-causes-of-death.html.

I.e. stuff we cannot control. So enforcing children to wear seatbelts will do a lot more than banning soft toys at nurseries.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  Kingpin

chromosomal abnormalities and deformations would come from something else practiced here which any medical mind will tell you is not good for the gene pool. Doubt there will be any laws to ban that though.

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago
Reply to  Kingpin

It is possible that the government cannot make sure all toys are washed properly before being used. They decided therefore to be cautious and ban them altogether, may be until they have figured out how to control that particular aspect (washing toys). Why is this a bad thing? And why would you consider the UK a reference anyway? I lived in the UK and I had to use their health facilities and I was not impressed at all.

Kingpin
Kingpin
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

It is also possible that the government cannot make sure all children’s clothes are washed properly before use, or carpets, or fabric seats, or floors, or toilets, or plates, or cups. Should all these be banned too?
In answer to your question of why its a bad thing, its not it is a ridiculous, knee jerk reaction thing. Suggested by a bureaucrat with probably very little knowledge either of healthcare or children.

You may not be impressed with the UK NHS, but it seems Qatari’s are when they catch something serious.

https://dohanews.co/qatari-man-dies-in-london-hospital-after-long-battle/

Ano
Ano
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Yup..far ahead in Healthcare with 60% fake educational qualification certificates of employees ….

kubaru
kubaru
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Jacine, do not feel offended, pls. However let me point out that there is a general rule in the West that you have to have some sort of poof first! You have to KNOW – not just think – that some useful tool, rule, thing, whatever is actually harmful to introduce a law which bans it. It doesn’t come as a whim of some ministry or commission.
Even than, granted, we make mistakes, we fall for stupid fashions and all that. But the government or any authority does not act in such irresponsible, abrupt way.

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

How about putting kids in seat belts and proper child seats to stop them being killed in car accidents. You will find that this kills more kids then cuddling a teddy bear.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago

Another genius move. Let’s ignore the real problems, like underpaid staff, lack of spaces at quality places, lack of consistency of a good curriculum, the fact that many of these infants don’t arrive in car seats, and focus instead on eliminating water play and teddy bears. Winnie-the-Pooh is the real menace here.

Saeed Ahmad Khan
Saeed Ahmad Khan
7 years ago

remove larrisa from hamad hospital…maybe the flowers could have germs

Farzan
Farzan
7 years ago

You clearly do not understand the problem here. And by the way, flowers are a health hazard for many patients, they DO carry “germs”/bacteria which can cause problems like pneumonia, so thanks for the suggestion.

Guest
Guest
7 years ago

by the way, flowers do carry bacteria that can cause pneumonia in burn patients, so yeah i guess they should do that too

MOFar
MOFar
7 years ago

your posts as the single biggest waste of time here

QA MINDS
QA MINDS
7 years ago

I have one simple question:

What is the level of training the inspectors and staff at the MOLSA
have received?

The staff working within the nurseries have to provide every imaginable level of
certification, degree etc. to even be considered for approval to work in a nursery.
What is the level of qualification of these 18 new hires mentioned in the article? What were the requirements for the position of inspector?
What is the level of education for the Director of these 18 new inspectors?
What regular training do they receive? So, I guess that’s more than one question.

I will make a challenge: I bet one could pull an Assistant or Class Helper from almost any nursery in Qatar and that individual will have more education and experience than any of these 18. I would honestly love to be proven wrong…but I doubt it.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  QA MINDS

Did you think there were qualifications to hold those positions of authority? lol

Chilidog
Chilidog
7 years ago

Ahhhhh, now I understand why I’m not allowed to kiss my wife in public: we might accidentally swap some scary germs! I’m glad we have such competent people looking out for us and our kids so we keep all those scary germs where they belong: safe at home!

Expat
Expat
7 years ago

Another achievement for MOLSA…can’t wait for their next heroic act!

Michael Pearson
Michael Pearson
7 years ago

Google the “Hygiene Hypothesis”.

A quick summary – If children are not exposed to germs when they are young, they will have a higher chance of having a defective immune system when they are older.

“Early life exposure to microbe-enriched environments decreases susceptibility to diseases such as IBD and asthma…”

Farzan
Farzan
7 years ago

It’s not about exposure to germs, it’s the risk of allergies that these toys carry. Children in more developed countries like Qatar are already at higher risk of allergies, and soft toys are a well known cause of allergies as they can grow fungi and what not which can cause severe life threatening anaphylactic reactions in young children.

osamaalassiry
osamaalassiry
7 years ago

Looks like the personal opinion of an inspector… not a rule…

Ministries here like to issue written rules, with signatures and at least one rubber stamp.

One inspector tells a school no swimming, another told a school no soft toys… Where are the actual rules? did anybody ask MOLSA?

Huzz
Huzz
7 years ago
Reply to  osamaalassiry

I am starting to like you. Sensible man.

Shabina921
Shabina921
7 years ago
Reply to  osamaalassiry

We spoke to MOLSA after hearing about this from different nurseries. They confirmed it’s a rule – but am not sure if they write these things down or not.

osamaalassiry
osamaalassiry
7 years ago
Reply to  Shabina921

They should… It also needs to be on their website…

Waveydavey
Waveydavey
7 years ago

Ahhhhh those pesky toys causing asthma in our young. Absolutely nothing to do with the dust and wind. Lucky my little one doesn’t rely on one to go to sleep or there will be hell. What are they supposed to play with now? I find the rulings here increasing difficult to fathom and incredibly tiresome.

Farzan
Farzan
7 years ago

I agree it’s a little over the top, but I can see why this concerns them so much. Having had a sibling with severe allergies, which by the way are very common around here, I understand that they are trying to minimize the risk of allergies, asthma etc. Many people seem to be underestimating how severe these problems can be for some children. They can be life threatening, close up a child’s airways and cause death. And soft toys are one common cause that many doctors will tell you to get rid of if you have a child with such problems. Of course, that doesn’t mean that children shouldn’t ever play with soft toys again, but in a common setting such as a nursery, where children may share toys, it can be a hazard, especially if the parents don’t wash the toys regularly. So I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable for them to request this from parents. FYI this isn’t about “infections”, which I hope I made clear.

gabydb4
gabydb4
7 years ago

Next, they should arrange home schooling for nurseries levels to avoid children to catch diseases from
others and crowded hospital emergencies. Also no play areas in malls and finally they will not be allow to leave home until they reach 4y/o.

Marie Barr
Marie Barr
7 years ago

And this is in the country where they allowed a daycare centre to be opened, above a food court using bottled gas, with no fire escape, where 19 lives were lost.
Yes a personal teddy , which gives a child a sense of security is way too dangerous!

Pete
Pete
7 years ago

If I had children I’d be outta here in a flash.

Big Biker
Big Biker
7 years ago

Its a shame the same amount of inspections and upholding the rules does not seem to apply to the labour industry such as camp and site inspections. When was the last time we read of any companies being penalized in this regard, and yet we read about nurseries all the time.

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago
Reply to  Big Biker

Or drivers that endanger and kill…

wee_johnnie
wee_johnnie
7 years ago

Will parents know need to wrap their children up in cotton wool……..or other Ministry approved fluffy material, before being allowed to take them out ??? Will the Police abandon their pursuit of illegally parked vehicles to prosecute parents who dare to allow their children to run free without suitable protection ???

KJD
KJD
7 years ago

I decided to brainstorm all the ways that stuffed toys might be harmful in a nursery setting:

1) Small parts may become loose and then pose a choking hazard.
2) Stuffed animals in sleeping areas may pose a risk of suffocation.
3) During lice outbreaks, stuffed animals require special cleaning to eliminate the risk of lice spreading.
4) Hair/Fur may come loose from the stuffed animal and breathed into the lungs causing choking and air constriction.
5) Some stuffed toys contain hidden internal wires. If these wires become loose they could poke through the fabric and cause harm to the child.
6) Germs.
7) Dust mites.

AEC
AEC
7 years ago
Reply to  KJD

Or some kid might just clunk some other kid over the head with it. Life has risks. Some are worth mitigating.

Guest
Guest
7 years ago

Next they will be asking nurseries to have little more harder toys soon or even the real ones … Guns, Swords, Knives, …etc… let your kids learn what you are doing now.. let them continue the legacy …

Chipper fluffypants
Chipper fluffypants
7 years ago

I do agree that the gov’t needs to tackle many other important issues, but they are following guidelines from the AAP. http://www.sidsma.org/new_parents/AAP.html Most nurseries in the U.S. do not allow soft toys in the cribs or cots due to suffocation issues. The guidelines state that there should be a mattress, with a snug fitting sheet. That’s it. No toys, blankets, etc… I am concerned that many nurseries here have pillows and blankets in the cribs. I also see newborns bundled up with so many blankets and covering that they are to the point of sweating. This is so unsafe.

SokhnaFan2010
SokhnaFan2010
7 years ago

Remove all the soft toys. Agreed. Now place them strategically in said land Cruisers to cushion impact of said child impacting against the windscreen. Now that’s practical and will save lives.

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago

Teddy Bears Kill? How about ignorant or arrogant parents who refuse to put their children in child restraints and seat belts and drive like morons kill? Now thats a campaign and enforcement that would produce results in reducing child mortality and serious injury…but ohh no ban the teddy..

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