Posted on June 06, 2019

Despite the blockade imposed on the country by some of its neighbours, Qatar’s healthcare sector continues to flourish like never before. From being named one of the best in the world to launching new hospitals and world-class medical services, the country’s healthcare sector saw several developments in the last two years. Earlier this year, Qatar’s healthcare system was declared the best in Middle East and the fifth best in the world by Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank. 

Also, Qatar is the only country in the region to feature on the top 5 list of the Legatum Prosperity Index, behind Singapore, Luxembourg, Japan and Switzerland. Last year, Qatar was ranked 13th in the world. The sector achieved another milestone when the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) partially opened its new Trauma and Emergency Centre, offering a number of services to patients. Once fully operational, the new Centre — one of the largest in the region — will lead to a significant expansion of trauma and emergency services in Qatar, ranging from trauma, urgent and critical care, to short stay and ‘See and Treat’ walk-in services. 

In April, 13 HMC facilities and services were accredited by the US-based Joint Commission International (JCI) by achieving the “Gold Seal” of approval in recognition of their quality of care. Of the 13 facilities, eight, including the Hamad Dental Center and the Mental Health Service, received the accreditation for the first time. “The quality of healthcare in Qatar continues to improve year-on-year. The JCI accreditation is another example of the quality of healthcare in Qatar being recognised internationally. HMC, as the main provider of secondary and tertiary care in the country, is central to this,” Minister of Public Health HE Dr Hanan Mohamed al Kuwari said.

Trauma System has also been successfully reaccredited by Accreditation Canada International (ACI) and awarded the Trauma Distinction Award of Excellence. Adding yet another jewel to the crown of Qatar’s healthcare system, a team of surgeons at HMC successfully performed a rare kidney transplant for a patient whose blood type was incompatible with that of the donor. With this unprecedented surgery in Qatar, HMC has become one of the very few organ transplant centres in the world that can perform transplant surgery for a donor and recipient whose blood type does not match. These centres represent only 5 percent of the total organ transplant centres worldwide.

HMC’s Hamad General Hospital Medical Director and Head of Qatar Organ Transplant Center Dr Yousuf al Maslamani said, “Thanks to the great advancement of the healthcare sector in Qatar, this great leap has been achieved. The healthcare sector’s advancement coupled with the highly trained clinical teams and state-of-the-art medical technology placed Qatar’s healthcare system among the best healthcare systems in the world.”

In 2017, the year when the blockade began, state of the art facilities opened at the Medical City complex. They included the Qatar Rehabilitation Institute (QRI), the Ambulatory Care Centre (ACC) and Women’s Wellness and Research Centre (WWRC), providing patients with access to an unprecedented level of care by increasing bed capacity, improving services and granting faster access to specialised treatment. Dr Kuwari said the new Medical City hospitals represented the biggest expansion of healthcare facilities in the history of Qatar and were a central part of the country’s commitment to providing patients with the safest, most effective and most compassionate care.

Last year started on a high note as HMC’s new Tobacco Control Centre opened in January, playing an important role in the fight to curb smoking in the community. In mid-February, HMC opened phase two of Hamad General Hospital’s state-of-the-art surgical services expansion, which was part of HMC’s busiest expansion programme in more than a decade. It included 16 rooms to receive patients from wards, 30 recovery rooms, a dedicated nurse’s station, conference room and enhanced staff areas. In June 2018, HMC inaugurated two new services, including a state-of-the-art Cardiac MRI Suite at Heart Hospital and a new chemotherapy robotic pharmacy at the National Centre for Cancer Care and Research (NCCCR).

Shortly afterwards, HMC officially opened its Stroke Service Unit, which is part of the new Neuroscience Institute at Hamad General Hospital and the facility features a Rapid Access Stroke Unit (RASU) and a Secondary Stroke Prevention Clinic (SSPC), which combined to provide an innovative and comprehensive approach to stroke care through early diagnosis and faster assessment and treatment. The last quarter of 2018 saw the opening of the Hazm Mebaireek General Hospital, bringing care closer to the Industrial Area community. In December 2018, new Central Clinical Laboratories (CCL) at the Qatar Rehabilitation Institute (QRI) were inaugurated.

Besides, Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) continued to open new health centres across Qatar. Last year, PHCC opened new centres in Muaither, Al Wajba, Al Waab and Qatar University. In addition, the PHCC has continued to expand its Bowel and Cancer Screening suites. In November last year, Sidra Medicine, a specialty hospital for women and children, opened. In terms of surgeries, HMC care teams performed pioneering surgery on a 55-year-old man who had an accidental arm amputation, just below the elbow.

Sidra Medicine also separated conjoined twins, marking a first in Qatar, in less than a year since the opening of the inpatient facility. In terms of the awards and recognitions, HMC’s Mental Health Nursing Service won the 2017 National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI) Award for Outstanding Nursing Quality for the second consecutive year. In addition, HMC was awarded the Excellence Award in Health Operational Performance at the 19th annual forum of the Arab Hospitals Federation, held in Muscat, Oman in March 2018. 

The organisation also became the first healthcare organisation in the Middle East, Western Asia, and Africa region to receive the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization’s (ELSO) Award for Excellence in Life Support (Gold Level) for its extracorporeal life support programme. The unjust siege failed to make an impact in the pharmaceuticals sector as well. Despite having its traditional sources of supply in Saudi Arabia and the UAE before the blockade, HMC — the biggest healthcare provider in the country — suffered no shortage of any medicine. HMC was successful in finding alternative supply sources, by striking deals with bigger pharma companies outside GCC. They were willing to export high-quality medicines to Qatar at cheaper rates than those supplied by companies in the blockading countries.

Months after the siege, HMC Pharmacy Executive Director Dr Moza al Hail said, “We stopped dealing with companies from Saudi Arabia and UAE. We found generics from America, Canada, Turkey and Europe. We get good-quality medicines and sometimes at a cheaper price. Since the first day of the blockade on June 5 in 2017, strategies were put in place to deal with new situation and the plans are still going on. We did not face any medicine shortage. We have enough medicines all the times.”
Within the two years of the blockade, a number of strategies have been launched and implementation started including the Qatar National Health Strategy 2018-2022, Qatar National Dementia Plan 2018-22, Qatar National Mental Health Strategy 2018-2022 and PHCC Corporate Strategy Plan 2019-2023, among others.

source: Qatar Tribune