Qatar’s healthcare sector world class thanks to unprecedented achievements

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The State of Qatar has managed to build a world-class public healthcare system in recent years thanks to a multi-sectoral approach to health and well-being in the country. The state has invested significantly in enhancing the health and well-being of its population and achieving sustainability, guided by the wise vision of HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and in pursuit of Qatar’s National Vision 2030.

As a result, Qatar became the first country where all its municipalities earned the title of “Healthy City” from the World Health Organization (WHO). Additionally, Qatar Foundation’s Education City was awarded the title of “Healthy Educational City,” and Qatar University was recognized as a “Healthy University.”

Achieving this milestone required placing health as a priority for cities by promoting health, equity, and sustainable development. This pioneering approach was translated into initiatives, strategic policies, and best practices by prioritizing “Health in All Policies” in close collaboration across various sectors of the state.

The healthcare system in Qatar has become distinguished and unique, earning global trust and reaching international standards. Qatar’s healthcare system revolves around the importance of comprehensive healthcare coverage for all members of society, improving the health of the Qatari community, meeting the needs of citizens, residents, and visitors alike, and elevating its services to the highest global standards to achieve Qatar’s National Vision 2030.

Regarding public healthcare facilities in the country, recent years have witnessed a qualitative leap with an increase in public healthcare facilities and a significant rise in competent healthcare and paramedical staff. By the end of 2023, the public sector had 19 hospitals and long-term care facilities, with the number of public health centers (including those under the Primary Health Care Corporation and those managed by the Qatar Red Crescent under an agreement with the Ministry of Public Health) reaching 35 centers distributed across the state, including 6 health and wellness centers. The total workforce in the public healthcare sector amounted to 29,960 healthcare workers.

Conversely, Qatar also focused on encouraging investments in the private healthcare sector, which witnessed a qualitative leap. By the end of 2023, the private sector had 10 hospitals, 21 day surgery centers, 417 general and specialized health centers including dental centers, 319 diagnostic centers encompassing medical laboratories and diagnostic radiology centers, dental laboratories, and vision testing, along with 140 individual clinics and corporate clinics, 135 health and nursing agencies, and 1,251 primary healthcare units. The total workforce in the private healthcare sector amounted to 21,417 healthcare workers.

As a result of massive investments in the healthcare sector, Qatar’s average life expectancy has increased significantly, reaching 80.3 years in 2021, reflecting major improvements in the population’s health indicators.

Qatar also achieved several national, regional, and international accomplishments in public health, including global accreditations in public health, performance, operations, patient safety, patient engagement programs, strategic guidance for future years, healthcare development, and public-private partnership programs.

HE Minister of Public Health Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari emphasized earlier this year that Qatar is proud to be the first country in the world where all its municipalities earned the title of “Healthy City” from the World Health Organization. Additionally, Qatar University was awarded the title of “Healthy University,” and the Education City by Qatar Foundation received the title of “Healthy Educational City.” These projects align with the priority of “Health in All Policies” in Qatar’s National Health Strategy (2018-2022), supporting the Healthy City program.

Five hospitals in Qatar were ranked among the top 250 academic medical centers globally. The Primary Health Care Corporation received Canadian accreditation according to Diamond Level Accreditation Standards. Moreover, the Qatar Red Crescent achieved platinum accreditation for all four healthcare centers it operates and manages under a cooperation agreement with the Ministry of Public Health.

The Ministry of Public Health has received an award from the World Health Organization for World No Tobacco Day.
Additionally, Qatar is proud to have recently launched the first phase of its health insurance system targeting visitors to the country, in accordance with Law No. (22) of 2021 regulating healthcare services within Qatar. This health insurance system aims to support the development and regulation of the healthcare sector in the country, improving the health of the population and their access to essential care services through an efficient and sustainable healthcare system, and regulating healthcare spending.

Among the significant achievements in Qatar’s healthcare sector is in the field of emergency medical services, where Hamad Medical Corporation’s ambulance service has consistently achieved response rates exceeding set targets for emergency response times for the eleventh consecutive year. The target set in the first National Health Strategy is to reach the emergency scene within 10 minutes in urban areas and 15 minutes in rural areas for up to 75% of emergency calls.

Aligned with technological advancements and digital transformation, Qatar’s healthcare sector has enhanced its electronic health services, making the healthcare system interconnected through electronic systems that enable medical teams to access patient records across various public healthcare facilities, in addition to providing telemedicine services and home medication delivery.

The Ministry of Public Health has also launched the new edition of Qatar National Formulary (QNF) via the ministry’s website, serving as a national database providing comprehensive and updated information on pharmaceuticals, registration status, regulations, and guidelines, listing over 4,000 officially registered medicines updated monthly.

Furthermore, Qatar has been a pioneer in ensuring the right to health, as enshrined in the country’s permanent constitution, which emphasizes the state’s concern for public health, providing means of disease prevention and treatment in accordance with the law.

In this context, the Minister of Public Health emphasized in a press statement on World Health Day, celebrated on April 7, “that Qatar, keen on ensuring the right to health for all residents, has worked to provide high-quality healthcare services to ensure that individuals in the community receive the care they need at the right place and time, in line with Qatar’s national vision and health strategies, contributing to achieving sustainable development goals.”

Qatar’s healthcare system’s efficient response to the global health challenge, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic, has been recognized internationally. Qatar recorded one of the lowest pandemic-related mortality rates globally, and its advanced healthcare system and services have successfully supported major sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023, which were among the healthiest sports tournaments. Through collaboration between the Ministry of Public Health and local and international partners, these tournaments contributed to creating a sustainable legacy of health and sports.

On the international level, Qatar has provided health support to medium and low-income countries. Notable initiatives include His Highness the Amir’s directive for Qatar to treat 1,500 Palestinians from Gaza in designated hospitals, as part of efforts to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian brothers amid Israeli aggression.

The Ministry of Public Health has also launched several important initiatives aimed at supporting the right to health, including issuing the Patients’ Rights and Responsibilities Charter, published in eight languages for ease of understanding by all residents. The charter clearly outlines patients’ rights and duties and is mandatory for healthcare facilities in the country to display and implement.

In terms of figures, in 2023, Hamad Medical Corporation’s outpatient clinics recorded over 2.8 million visits and more than 1.3 million visits to emergency departments, with over 21.6 million laboratory tests, more than 60,000 surgeries, and over 22,000 births.

Qatar also focuses on organ donation and transplantation, achieving unprecedented milestones. The number of organ donors registered in the country exceeded 530,000, with approximately 82 kidney transplants, 11 liver transplants, and 3 lung transplants performed successfully in 2023.

Acknowledging Qatar’s healthcare system’s development and significant support for the World Health Organization, Qatar was elected as the President of the World Health Organization Executive Board for its 153rd session for one year, starting May 31, 2023.

Furthermore, the World Health Organization designated three centers in Qatar for collaboration, including the Aging Medicine and Long-Term Care Management Department at Hamad Medical Corporation, the Tobacco Control Center, and the WCM-Q Collaborating Center for Disease Surveillance on HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and viral hepatitis.

In the context of international cooperation, the Ministry of Public Health signed an operational arrangement memorandum with the International Atomic Energy Agency in the fields of radiology and food safety, aiming to establish a framework for (non-exclusive) cooperation between Qatar and the International Atomic Energy Agency in human health to contribute to enhancing healthcare quality in other countries, especially in less developed countries. Additionally, several advanced laboratories and centers in Qatar will be designated as collaborating centers with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Due to Qatar’s significant efforts at both the national and international levels, Her Excellency Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health, was selected as the best minister in the world and awarded the Best Minister in the World Award during the recent Global Government Forum held in the United Arab Emirates, in recognition of her exceptional efforts in promoting excellence in the government sector and implementing successful, scalable, and sustainable initiatives.

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