Qatar currently has the capacity to test about 2-3% of the population of the country for Covid-19 on a daily basis, as the national healthcare system is more resilient to meet any eventuality, noted a senior official on Friday.
“In the beginning we could test only about 1000 people a day. Now it has grown to a capacity of about 70,000 which is about 2-3% of the total population of the country," said Dr Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamd al-Thani, director of Public Health at the Ministry of Public Health.
"We can test the whole population within a month if necessary. Similarly, there has been great advancements in various fields as ICU capacity increased threefold. We have trained more people in public health and contact tracing to meet any future situation, making the system more resilient," he explained.
Sheikh Mohamed was speaking at a plenary panel on ‘Emerging Stronger from the Pandemic: Building a more resilient system’ on the second day of Qatar Health 2022 and 2nd Qatar Public Health virtual conference.
The other members of the panel were Dr Bassem Jarrar, Communicable Disease Centre, Atlanta, US; Prof Bart Haagmans, Erasmus University, New Zealand and Prof Carlos Castillo-Salgado from Johns Hopkins University, US. The session was moderated by Dr Hanan Abdul Rahim, dean of the College of Health Sciences, Qatar University.
As for the upcoming World Cup, Sheikh Mohamed said that the healthcare system is well set to provide all the support for the mega event.
“Qatar is well prepared and ready for the 2022 World Cup. Resilience is so important in future too as we were very resilient all through the pandemic and we have to be so during the upcoming World Cup. Our lessons from this experience are so important for us to meet any future eventuality and it can help us grow in a better direction,” explained, Sheikh Mohamed.
The public health director also pointed out that Qatar has a national health strategy that comes to an end this year.
“We are starting a new national health strategy soon. In Qatar investment in health has become well organised, leading to preventive measures and a resilient system. We are part of a global security system in healthcare as world leaders have agreed with transferring of data and other information to get more advanced healthcare. During Covid-19 we have seen the highest number of researches on one disease which is a positive outcome as countries were ready to share information with one another," he remarked.
Prof Haagmans noted that resilient health systems are aware of early signals of any emerging diseases and can pick up preventive measures.
“Healthcare systems must be ready with early detection systems in place to meet any future eventuality. This will further develop the importance of epidemiology. I also see the need for quick intervention for future outbreaks to develop intervention strategies for vaccines. This can be connected to early detection, epidemiology and the intervention strategies that one should look for,” he said.
Prof Salgado noted that the collaborations from the scientists has never been so strong as in these times. "It has been so speedy and the national history of Covid-19 was developed so fast. I hope that the continuation of the collaborations between the nations around the globe will be enhanced. All the knowledge about a disease is very critical for the humanity and that collaboration is totally important,” he pointed out.
“Lot of things gives me hope. This gives us a new opportunity to start new programmes to increase the number of people who are trained especially the frontline workers. To pick up the early warning signals, we need the people at grass root levels to be well trained,” concluded, Dr Jarrar.
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