Posted on February 28, 2016

Legal issues relating to the practice of medicine in Qatar were discussed as experts convened for the first international conference on the link between law and medicine that opened at Qatar University (QU) yesterday. Organized jointly by QU colleges of Law (LAWC) and Medicine (CMED), Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), the conference ‘Law and Medicine: Challenging the Future’ explored the critical medical and legal challenges faced by medical practitioners, as well as the rights and safety of patients in the light of rapid advances in medical care, research and technology.

The conference, which is supported by Qatar National Research Fund, brought together legal and healthcare experts from around the world for two days of presentations, panel discussions and networking sessions. Topics included an analysis of the existing regulatory framework for practicing medicine in Qatar and the Gulf, the liability of healthcare providers, protecting patient privacy and rights, the current legal framework for supporting innovation in healthcare delivery, and the development of a healthcare workforce for Qatar, now and for the future.

In his opening remarks, QU President Dr Hassan Rashid Al Derham (pictured) said: “The healthcare system in Qatar has witnessed remarkable development in recent years to meet the objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030. Notably, QU recently launched the first national medical college to graduate future qualified physicians and to enrich the local and international research sector towards enhancing the human condition. The College of Law also plays an important role in promoting the legal aspect of healthcare in Qatar. Both colleges are keen to promote partnerships with a range of academic institutions that will participate in and benefit from such a conference”.

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Dr Al Derham invited attendees to visit the exhibition entitled “The Golden Era of Islamic Medicine” currently mounted at the College of Medicine. Supreme Council of Health Secretary General for Medical Affairs Dr Saleh bin Ali Al Marri expressed his gratitude to QU for its tremendous efforts in discussing important issues through hosting and participating in international conferences in which researchers and experts are attracted to present their invaluable research studies and findings”. He added: “Providing an integrated healthcare system entails developing the legal background of all practitioners in the health sector. This conference will discuss effective methods to approach this aim”. 

QU VP for Medical Education, Dr Egon Toft said, “It is important for medical professionals and students to thoroughly understand the evolving rights and responsibilities in their profession. Likewise, it is important for legal practice to remain close to the realities of medical practice as well as to its rapid developments and advances, and the legal implications they may incur. Rapid advances in healthcare, biotechnology, and genomics are presenting unprecedented opportunities for helping patients, and new challenges in adapting existing legal frameworks to support their best application. From this perspective, conferences such as this are key to both professions and to the welfare of society and individuals alike.”

Dr Toft noted the relevance of the conference to students, saying, “Issues like confidentiality, negligence and wrongful acts in relation to medical practice have close connections to ethics and professionalism in medical education and practice. These are central issues for Qatar University’s health and medicine programs; and are approached distinctively in relation to the context of the Arab and Islamic society. I believe this conference will enrich discussions on these and other topics and I am very excited that the College of Medicine is a main contributor to this collaborative initiative”.

LAWC dean Dr Mohamed Abdulaziz Al- Khulaifi said: “It is a significant opportunity to bring legal advisors and healthcare experts to discuss, share experience and exchange ideas on critical issues and promote sustainable development of the healthcare sector in Qatar, in line with Qatar National Vision 2030. This event highlights QU’s pivotal role as a driving force for innovation in legal and health education that promotes inter-activity among various disciplines. We look forward to the outcomes and recommendations that will emanate from these discussions that will ultimately benefit students and professionals in the health and legal field.”

WCM-Q Dean Dr Javaid Sheikh said: “Qatar’s healthcare sector has experienced very rapid growth over the past two decades. Some of the best doctors in the world are here practicing the most up-to-date medicine with highly advanced technology. To allow this advanced healthcare to be delivered, a robust legal and regulatory framework must be in place to protect patients as well as healthcare professionals. “As such, it is very important that academic and healthcare delivery institutions bring students, practitioners, policy-makers and the community at large together to promote a safe and effective healthcare environment for the public.”

Dr Sheikh added: “This conference provided an excellent opportunity to hear from some of the world’s leading experts in the legal, medical and health regulatory fields, helping us to develop and coordinate the legal and regulatory framework which best protects patients and healthcare practitioners alike.” Keynote address was delivered by Stephen P Nash of Squire Patton Boggs. Speakers included Dr Ibrahim Janahi and Dr Michael Richmond (HMC); Dr Marcellina Mian, (WCM-Q); Dr Tim McDonald and Clinton Hermes (SIDRA), and Dr Humayun Chaudhry (Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), US). 

Participating in the panel discussions were LAWC Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies Dr Francis Botchway and law professors Dr Sonia Elleuch Mallek, Dr Ahmed S Hassanein, Dr Paula Young, Dr Tarek Rashed, Dr Reem Al-Ansari, Dr Nazzal Kisswani, Dr Gaber Mahgoub, Dr Mohammed Mattar and Dr Basher Saad ZaghloulCMED faculty Prof Serhiy Souchelnytskyi presented on legislating personalized treatment for cancer patients, while Prof Hossam Hamdi addressed professionalism, medicine and law from an Arab and Islamic perspective.