Posted on June 22, 2011

Qatar spent over QR 9.5 billion on health care in 2010, according the Qatar National Health Accounts report released on Saturday. The total amount spent represents a 1.6% increase from 2009. Compiled by government experts, the report identified areas of development and provided a clear idea of where funding in the health care sector is being directed.

Last year, 77.5% of the money spent was funded by the public sector, with QR7.382 billion coming from the Supreme Council of Health (SCH), QR1.024 billion from Qatar Foundation, and the rest from government and para-statal organizations. Of the almost QR2.148 billion spent by the private sector, the majority came from households in the form of out-of-pocket payments, while QR 600 million came from private health insurance companies, and 1% was funded by charitable organizations.

The prevalence of private health insurance companies also rose in 2010, with a 16% increase in the number of companies offering coverage to their employees last year. Most of the money spent in 2010 (67%) went towards hospitals, which received QR6.418 billion, with ambulatory health care providers receiving QR1.094 billion and the rest of the money being spent on other items such as private retail sales and public health programs.

Some 26% of the funds were spent on inpatient, long term services, 27% on outpatient and daycare services, and 12% on ancillary services such as clinical laboratories and diagnostic imaging. Around QR1.382 billion was directed towards investment, or gross capital formation, in health, while QR983 million was spent on medical goods to be dispensed to outpatients.

The report indicates that of the QR7,382 million of public funds spent over the past 12 months, over a half was spent on wages and salaries, with QR1.070 billion contributing towards pharmaceuticals and other supplies, QR643 million being spent on services and QR441 million directed towards other resources.

The report declares the absence of an “appropriate health management information system that includes data on funds’ sources,” and “a clear trace of the use of funds,” as major constraints to improving the health service as a whole in the past, and explains that by collecting data related to finances, the NHA can provide a comprehensive view of the system, making it comparable to other countries. In addition to recommending the creation of a social health insurance program, the report also suggested that to the SCH should “gradually transfer the services from the tertiary care providers to the ambulatory providers.”

“Efforts should be made to ensure that this reform is enhanced by a gradual re-allocation of funds from the public hospitals to the primary health care centres,” noted the report. Over the next four years, continued investment in the health care sector will see the number of hospital beds in Qatar double, bringing it closer in line with other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) developed economies.