QATAR - Health & Education
Minister of Health, Qatar
Abdulla bin Khalid Al-Qahtani holds a Master’s degree in Accounting from the American University in Washington, DC. He became a certified public accountant (CPA) in Maryland in 1998. Al-Qahtani has held several important positions, including Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy and Trade, Director General of the Organizing Committee of the Asian Games, and Senior Manager of the Financial Control Department at Qatar National Bank (QNB). He has also been a member of several boards, among which are the Qatar Central Bank, the Supreme Council for Economic Affairs and Investment, and the National Health Authority (NHA). Al-Qahtani is the Minister of Health and has been Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) since it was established in 2009, replacing the NHA.
The National Health Strategy (NHS) has grown over the past two years, and with this growth has come more detailed planning, as well as a 27% rise in outputs. The NHS is building the foundations for long-term sustainable change in the health sector. Better governance, a comprehensive primary care strategy, the initial phase of social health insurance, the establishment of the Qatar Council for Healthcare Practitioners, and a strategy for laboratory integration and standardization are some of the main landmarks of our efforts. We will shortly launch a public appointment system, open 18 new health centers, increase the number of rehabilitation beds available across Qatar, and open a new 200-bed physical medicine and rehabilitation hospital in 2015. We are also due to publish a national mental health strategy. Finally, a strategy for community pharmacies will improve patient access to pharmaceuticals at a wide range of convenient locations.
The establishment of clinical guidelines for Qatar based on international best practice is also something people can expect to see, as we move from a curative approach in healthcare to a preventative one. In that regard, a national action plan for tobacco will target smoking and enhance the enforcement of the new tobacco law when decreed. Similarly, we are developing national dietary guidelines to encourage healthy nutrition. We are also planning the development of robust occupational health and safety guidelines to mitigate related diseases and hazards. For parents, there will be a breastfeeding and complimentary feeding education program to support new families. Finally, Qataris can also expect to see more effective patient advocacy services, as well as the establishment of e-health services.
Qatar has embarked on an ambitious research program to allocate 2.8% of its GDP to research, in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030. The SCH plays a central role in setting forth the research governance framework within the health R&D ecosystem in Qatar. This framework aims at the coordination of research activities, the allocation of funds, and the development of a stakeholder exchange mechanism across the spectrum of biomedical research, clinical research, public health research, and public policy. The Department has developed a number of policies and regulations for conducting research on human subjects, the use of stem cells and gene transfer in humans, and also clinical effectiveness research, a fact recognized by the publication of BMC Medical Ethics 2012.
There are no endemic communicable diseases in Qatar. We have one of the lowest incidence rates of HIV and malaria, and we are working to strengthen tuberculosis control. In terms of endemic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), we do have a high prevalence of diabetes (17%), high blood pressure (32.9% for adults aged between 18 and 64), and other risk factors, such as obesity (more than 40%) and smoking (16.4% for both sexes). As more than 60% of deaths are due to NCDs, SCH is working on different awareness programs targeting nutrition, physical activity, healthy lifestyles, and smoking cessation.
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