Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has cared for over 13,800 patients from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt ever since these countries declared a blockade against Qatar one year ago, a senior official said.
"Qatar has remained committed to providing healthcare services to the entire population," stated medical director Dr Yousef al-Maslamani, while stressing that patient rights should never be affected by political differences.
"Our services remain unaffected and the blockade has provided an opportunity to demonstrate innovation and self-sufficiency," he explained.
“The last year has been one of the busiest in our history in terms of expansion. We officially opened the new Medical City complex and also introduced and expanded a number of other services and facilities,” pointed out Dr al-Maslamani.
“The blockade forced us to look inward to find new solutions and different ways of working to deliver our services. While our focus has continued to be providing each and every one of our patients with the best possible care, the blockade presented an opportunity to be more innovative and self-reliant,” he observed.
“We have continued to provide the best possible care to every patient, regardless of their nationality. Our care teams work with each patient to ensure they receive the right treatment, in the right place, at the right time, and that they have the information they need to make informed choices about their care,” said Dr al-Maslamani.
He noted that in cases where patients chose to stop receiving care in Qatar, every effort was made to ensure continuity of care, including communicating with their new healthcare team and providing necessary documentation where needed.
“If one of our patients chooses to stop receiving care at a HMC facility for any reason, our clinical handover process enables safe transfer to a facility of their choice. Our ultimate goal is to provide patients and their families with the support required to ensure the best possible health outcome,” added Dr al-Maslamani.
Dr Moza al-Hail, HMC's executive director of pharmacy, said that while there was never any public health risk associated with a medication or medical supply shortage, some patients were initially very concerned about the potential impact of the blockade in this regard.
She noted that such concerns did not materialise and in fact a number of local manufacturers prospered as a result of the blockade, viewing it as an opportunity to expand and increase their production. The situation also enabled HMC to test and strengthen its contingency plans.
“As part of its regular planning process, HMC maintains a large stock of medication and medical supplies. At any given time, we have many months’ supply of medications and other vital items. While some supply routes were interrupted, we successfully sourced new suppliers and explored domestic opportunities. Today we have strong relationships with several local companies and factories that provide various medications, including a number of the intravenous injection drugs our patients rely on,” added Dr al-Hail.
Noting that HMC’s pharmacies receive around 6,500 patients each day, she reiterated that the loss of some regional supplies provided an opportunity to maximise ‘Made in Qatar’ solutions as well as establish direct relationships with many international suppliers.
Dr al- Maslamani also explained that in early June of last year, HMC’s procurement team began working with international companies to co-ordinate direct purchase agreements that would prevent potential delays or interruptions caused by working with regional agents based in blockade countries. He said HMC’s procurement teams also began looking at alternative suppliers who could provide the same or similar replacement products.
Dr al-Maslamani, who is also director of the Qatar Center for Organ Transplantation, also noted that the blockade has had no impact on Qatar’s organ donation programme. There are currently close to 300,000 individuals on Qatar’s organ donor registry and the programme continues to expand with the annual Ramadan campaign kicking off late last month.
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