Posted on May 23, 2019

The State of Qatar organised a symposium on healthcare quality and patient safety in the face of emergencies and adversities as a prerequisite for achieving universal health coverage, with the participation of 17 countries, WHO Secretariat, WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean and a number of non-governmental organizations. The symposium was held on the sidelines of the WHO World Health Assembly held in Geneva. 

Minister of Public Health H E Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari launched the symposium confirming that access to safe and high-quality health care is a human right in accordance with international humanitarian law. She added that securing this right worldwide requires regional and international cooperation and overcoming obstacles that face the path to safer healthcare and the pledge to leave no one behind, calls for safe comprehensive health coverage and making patient safety and care quality top priority.

Al Kuwari presented the efforts made in the patients’ safety field since the Alma Ata Declaration more than 40 years ago. She added that the WHO and the Global Ministerial Summits on Patient Safety had launched an agenda for safer care in low-and middle-income countries, and recently in areas of extreme adversity. HE the Minister of Public Health said the healthcare system in Qatar is of high quality and safety and that the modern and internationally accredited hospitals as well as Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) health care worker's work with local and international partners to ensure that patients are provided with quality care and safety.

She highlighted the humanitarian activities and commitments that the State of Qatar is known for. Relevant stakeholders in Qatar are working to improve the lives of those in need globally through a wide range of humanitarian assistance, relief services and development activities, where the 2018 World Summit on Innovation in Health Care (WISH) issued a report on challenges and opportunities for achieving universal health coverage in conflict areas, she added. The Minister of Public Health said part of its commitment to global health security, Qatar was one of the first countries in the Eastern Mediterranean region and the seventh in the world to be subject to the external assessment process to measure compliance with the International Health Regulations 2005, to ensure that Qatar is ready to respond to any problems related to global health security. 

Dr Al Kuwari despite international priorities and country-specific commitments being identified, there is a gap in patient safety and this gap is more prominent in emergencies and tribulations and meeting this challenge has several complex aspects and requires intersectoral and global cooperation between countries and organizations. The WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean is working on a promising study with a number of partners to review key challenges and priorities for quality and safety in times of adversity with a goal to formulate a framework or road map to help implement a flexible health care system capable of responding effectively to any challenges, she said. 

Al Kuwari called on all political leaders and policy makers from around the world to work towards a common vision for the development and implementation of a global plan of action on patient safety, stressing that safety must be a prerequisite for achieving comprehensive health coverage during emergencies and adversities, while strengthening the approach to serving those in need. She said that health and well-being are the core of peace and conflict resolution and that the shared vision of building a comprehensive and safe health care system that supports communities and prevents adversity is now essential. 

In the conclusion of the symposium, Dr Al Kuwari called for intensified global efforts in treating patients who are living in rough environments. She called for a global implementation of patient safety, and learning from the experience of WHO in that regard. She noted that the State of Qatar, part of its efforts of implementing the resolutions of the Global Action on Patient Safety, will contribute to building capabilities for that purpose and hosting consultations and technical meetings to discuss the matter. HE the Minister also called on international organizations and states to think about their commitments and the procedures that they can carry out. 

According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report on universal health coverage, at least half of the world’s population still lack access to basic health services, resulting in between 5.7 and 8.4 million deaths per year in low- and middle-income countries. The situation is even worse in fragile countries that are struck by armed conflicts, plagues or natural disasters. Health care systems in those countries according to the report are terribly affected by the increased demand and reduced resources. Numbers show that around 350 million children currently live in conflict zones of some type. Additionally, 20 people are forcibly displaced every minute as a result of conflict or persecution, leading to a total of 65.6 million people, including some 22.5 million refugees, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The symposium was organised to reflect the commitment of the State of Qatar to its responsibility towards international community and humanity, and its commitment to enhancing regional and international partnerships in the healthcare field.

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