*New projects include specialised hospitals and new services
*Plan under study to make health insurance compulsory for visitors
The draft law on the new health insurance system will soon be presented to the Advisory Council, HE the Minister of Public Health Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari Monday said.Last updated: June 18 2019 12:38 AM
A committee composed of the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the State Audit Bureau are examining the tender for the new health insurance, after studying the drawbacks of the previous system, the minister said.
She also revealed that work is being done to make it compulsory for visitors to Qatar have health insurance. This project is being implemented in co-operation with the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs.
"It will contribute to reducing the pressure on health services provided by the public sector, particularly the Emergency," she said.
Delivering an address to the Advisory Council, the minister stressed the health system in Qatar is always focused on providing services that match international standards.
She announced a number of projects that will contribute to further development of the health system. The projects include the construction of a number of specialised hospitals, both in the public and private sector, in addition to the creation of new services that will further improve the health system, which is ranked fifth globally.
HE the Minister of Public Health stressed that the health sector enjoys great support from His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
During the hearing, the minister discussed the health sector in Qatar and future plans to develop it. She also discussed the new services that are set to be provided, in addition to the efforts made to increase capacities in hospitals.
In response to queries of members on the delay of medical appointments, she said that the number of patients who visited Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) last year was 1.7mn. She noted that the addition of specialised services in primary healthcare units would help reduce the load on Hamad, which will in turn lead to less waiting times. The minister also noted the fact that many of HMC's services have become faster, such as daycare services, which can now be availed in one week's notice, down from several months.
In the course of the last three months, the minister said that the number of beds in hospitals has increased by 200. That is in addition to the 1,200 new beds added during the period from 2016 to 2018 after the opening of eight new hospitals.
Hazm Mebaireek General Hospital will play a role as well in expanding the health services and easing the load on other hospitals, particularly Hamad, the minister said, adding the hospital is now operating at 30% of its potential.
HE the minister stressed that the private sector also played a major role in strengthening the health system in Qatar. There are plans to increase the number of beds in the private sector by 25%, while there is also a plan to divert dental services for residents who currently hold health insurance to the private sector to reduce the pressure on public dental clinics.
On the prevalence of cancer in Qatar, the minister said the prevalence rates are in the normal range. She said it takes only 48 hours to refer those suspected of having cancer and it takes less than a week to begin treatment once the disease is confirmed.
Assistant Minister of Health Affairs at the Ministry of Public Health, Dr Saleh Ali al-Marri, said the healthcare system in Qatar has witnessed massive development and improvement over the past decades in light of the growing population in the country.
Talking about the expansion of health facilities, Dr Saleh al-Marri said the total number of hospital beds currently is 2,121. The staff strength grew by 11% for doctors and 12% for nursing staff.
In the primary healthcare sector, during the period 2016-18, nine centers were opened, as well as two male health centers run by the Qatar Red Crescent.
During the same period, three new hospitals and four diagnostic and treatment centers were opened in the private sector.
He also reviewed future projects that include health facilities under construction in 2019 and 2020 such as a support center for specialised care such as care for the elderly, long-term care and home-care services, Hamad General Hospital and emergency, The Al Maha Children's Unit, The Simulation Center, Ras Laffan Hospital, Mesaieed Hospital as well as 7 primary healthcare centres under construction, as well as a number of other planned hospitals and health facilities.
Dr al-Marri spoke about a number of challenges and opportunities for improvement in the areas of intensive emergency use, noting that 55% of emergency department cases are non-urgent. Due to that, the Public Ministry of Health has launched a health services guide to inform the public on how to optimise the healthcare system and to choose the services that best suit their needs.
Regarding medical appointments, there will be an improved method to book appointments, continuous enhancement of capacity, transfer of patients to specialised services of the Primary Health Care Co-operation, optimisation of primary care, home care and mobile health services.
He also explained that the healthcare system in Qatar outperforms many international standards in the field of quality care, including the emergency area. With regard to infection control, the percentage of cases of methicillin-resistant golden streptococcus aureus was 0.2% for every 10,000, well below 0.6 in the United States and 5.5 in Switzerland.