Qatar is proactively managing the Covid-19 crisis with proven flexibility and resilience, says an article by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The article by Aysun Ozen Tacer, consulting director of PwC Qatar, notes that Qatar is way ahead of other countries in the number of people tested per 1,000 for Covid-19 and has tested 13.10% of the total population as of July 2.

“Qatar is proactively managing the Covid-19 crisis and planning accordingly for the transition to the new normal. This is largely thanks to its strong healthcare policies and capabilities. From an infrastructure and operational capability perspective, Qatar has proven to be flexible and resilient,” said Tacer.

Tacer notes that Qatar has managed the infrastructure in different ways. “Qatar has confined the admission of Covid-19 patients to seven specialised hospitals and testing spots, thus creating a safe environment for other patients whilst maximising the impact against Covid-19. This brought a considerable asset efficiency. It increased bed capacity with the addition of two field hospitals - built in under three weeks; leveraged non-healthcare assets for quarantine and established mobile testing units,” Tacer said.

Tacer has also highlighted Qatar’s testing operations and its efficiency.

“We have seen one of the best examples of agile operation capability in Qatar, especially in testing operations. Qatar successfully deployed a team to execute random tests at workplaces and homes in high-risk areas and enabled monitoring of results. Qatar’s relatively high number of cases has been attributed to its aggressive testing strategy,” Tacer noted. “Since early May, Qatar tested at a level of at least 1.5 out of 1,000 residents daily, a significantly higher ratio than many other countries (the testing ratio of the UK is less than 1 person per 1,000 people, South Korea is less than 0.6). Between February 27 and June 23, Qatar has tested over 11% of its population," the official said, noting that the low rate of fatalities is an additional indicator of operational agility and success of Qatar’s efforts.

According to the article, one of the critical factors of Qatar’s operational success has been its ability to manage the healthcare workforce.

“Qatar avoided shortage of workforce through promptly and effectively engaging volunteers who are essentially experienced staff of Red Crescent, senior students of nursing and medical schools.

“Qatar already adapted some alternative channels of healthcare delivery, such as Hamad Medical Corporation’s applications like online consultation or virtual geriatrics clinics that are specially designed to protect vulnerable patients and to serve them in the comfort of their home. Obviously Ehteraz, the mobile contact tracing application is on the way to evolving a full scope preventive medicine tool. Digital healthcare being one of the key pillars of Smart Qatar (Tasmu) programme, we expect a surge in the number of entrepreneurs who develop products and services in digital healthcare,” Tacer said.

The official said Covid-19 is accelerating positive disruption in the healthcare system globally.

“The healthcare sector is both affected by the Covid-19 disease and is the ultimate enabler of the new normal. Indeed, the success of any economy or society in surviving the waves of Covid-19 will be determined by how resilient, adaptive and responsive their respective healthcare system is. Evidently, we are beginning to observe healthcare emerge as a new form of national defence, security and economic development worldwide,” Tacer said. “We have seen the Covid-19 response of Qatar as a coherent and well-organised approach, which is executed as a national defence plan in alignment with the country’s existing infrastructure, capabilities and societal structure. Qatar’s healthcare system has been enduring one of the toughest tests of history and surviving with even higher resilience and adaptive capacity.”

The PwC official also said that flexible infrastructure is key both for managing the peak crisis and the aftermath.

“Maintaining testing facilities and laboratories as independent units away from hospitals, managing existing infrastructure to fit in changing needs with flexible overlay, and focusing on restructuring operations rather than infrastructure are the critical initiatives, both for today and tomorrow. Telecare and telemedicine have long been present; yet now, with Covid-19, digital innovation has taken the spotlight. Contact tracing apps, such as Ehteraz of Qatar, have already been normalised as a part of the Covid-19 fight, yet it looks like they are here to stay; and stay with further enhanced functionality to serve as a preventive medicine tool," Tacer added.