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Several new projects will be launched to help further develop the healthcare sector, Minister of Public Health HE Dr Hanan Mohammed al Kuwari has announced.
Delivering a speech at the Shura Council on Monday, the minister said these projects include construction of a number of specialised hospitals, both in the public and private sector, and creation of new services to improve the health sector.
Qatar’s healthcare system, ranked fifth globally, has always focused on providing quality care to patients, she said.
Kuwari said the health sector enjoys great support from the Amir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani in order to develop a comprehensive system with high-quality services.
The minister also revealed that new services will be provided soon.
She said 1.7 million patients visited Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) last year. The addition of specialised services in primary healthcare units will help reduce the load on Hamad, which will reduce waiting time for patients, she said.
Kuwari said many of HMC’s services have become faster including day care services, which see only a week’s wait time.
She also announced that the draft law on the new health insurance system would soon be presented to the Shura Council. A committee comprising the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the State Audit Bureau are examining the tender for health insurance, after analysing the drawbacks of the previous system.
She revealed that work is being done to make it compulsory for Qatar’s visitors to have health insurance. Work on the project is currently being implemented in cooperation between the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs. This will help reduce pressure on the health services provided by the public sector, particularly emergency care.
In the course of the last three months, the minister said, the number of beds in hospitals has increased by 200.
That is in addition to the 1,200 new beds added during the period from 2016 to 2018 after the opening of eight new hospitals.
She said Hazm Mebaireek General Hospital will play a role as well in expanding the health services and easing the load on other hospitals, particularly Hamad. The minister noted that the Mebaireek hospital is operating at 30 percent of its potential.
She stressed that the private sector also plays a major role in strengthening the health system. “There are also plans to increase the number of beds in the private sector by 25 percent, while there is also a thought to convert dental services for residents who currently hold health insurance to the private sector to reduce the pressure on public dental clinics, which has seen major developments in terms of expanding its services,” she added.
In response to the prevalence of cancer in Qatar, Kuwari confirmed that the prevalence rates of the disease in the country are in the normal range, noting that the medical services provided to cancer patients are very sophisticated, especially in the field of diagnosis and treatment. She said it takes 48 hours to refer those suspected of having cancer, which is far less than many developed countries who take up to a week. It also takes less than a week to begin treatment once the disease is confirmed.
For his part, Assistant Minister of Health Affairs at the Ministry of Public Health Dr Saleh Ali al Marri gave a presentation on the reality of the health sector, services and outstanding achievements, challenges and opportunities for further improvement and development.
Marri said the healthcare system in Qatar has witnessed an important process of development and improvement over the past decades. The investment in new facilities, services and health technologies contributed to the development of infrastructure in the health sector in the country to meet the health needs in light of the growing population in the country.
He reviewed the progress made in the light of the first National Health Strategy 2011-2016, which achieved 80 percent of its goals based on statistics from the Planning and Statistics Organization. The second National Health Strategy 2018-2022 ( Our Health Our Future ) was based on these achievements.
The strategy aims to develop services that focus on individuals, patients and their families and change the functioning of the health system by shifting the focus from the therapeutic aspect of disease to the preventive aspect to help people maintain their health.
Marri talked about the expansion of health facilities. In the public health sector, from 2016 to 2018, 8 new public and specialised hospitals were opened with a total of 1,200 new beds, with a total number of beds currently at 2,121 and a growth rate of 41 percent , in addition, the labour force grew by 11 percent for doctors and 12 percent for nursing staff.
He said nine primary health care centers were opened between 2016 and 2018.
Pointing to the significant expansion witnessed by the private health sector, he said three new hospitals and four diagnostic and treatment centers were opened during the same period.
He said the new health facilities in the private sector have four centres for people with special needs, 13 diagnostic services centres, 38 ophthalmology units, 60 medical and nursing agencies, 303 first aid clinics, 139 pharmacies and drug stores, in addition to 95 new public health centres and 89 Company Clinic.
He also reviewed future projects that include health facilities under construction in 2019 and 2020 such as a support center for specialized care such as care for the elderly, long-term care and homecare services, Hamad General Hospital and emergency, The Al Maha Children’s Unit,The Simulation Center, Ras Laffan Hospital, Mesaieed Hospital as well as 7 primary health care centers under construction, as well as a number of other planned hospitals and health facilities.
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