FULL BILL OF HEALTH

Qatar 2020 | HEALTH | INTERVIEW

The health minister is committed to continuing the growth of Qatar's healthcare system, with plans for more than 20 new facilities specializing in pediatrics, geriatrics, and mental health.

Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari
BIOGRAPHY

Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari was appointed Minister of Public Health in 2016. She worked as managing director of HMC before being appointed Minister of Public Health. She joined HMC's Women's Hospital in 1996 and rose through the ranks to become director of the Women's Hospital in 2003, assistant managing director of operations in 2005, and finally managing director of HMC in 2007. She is also chairperson of the Qatar Biobank Board of Directors as well as the Academic Health System International Advisory Board. She is a member of the Sidra Board of Governors and the board of directors of the Qatar Foundation for Social Work. She holds a PhD in healthcare management from Brunel University.

Qatar has been ranked fifth best for health in the world by the UK's Legatum Institute. How has the quality of Qatar's health system contributed to this ranking and how does the system compare to international standards?
Improved life expectancy, better health outcomes, and investment in health infrastructure led to Qatar being ranked fifth in the world for health by the Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank, at the start of 2019. In compiling the health ranking in the annual prosperity index, Qatar's performance in areas including basic health outcomes, health infrastructure, preventative care, and physical and mental health were all evaluated, with the recent growth and development of Qatar's healthcare system playing a leading role in improvements across all these areas. Qatar has the highest life expectancy rate in the Eastern Mediterranean region, and its crude death rate per 100,000 population has reduced significantly throughout this decade. Additionally, Qatar is ranked in the top quartile in the Universal Health Coverage Index by the WHO and World Bank's 2017 Global Monitoring Report. In terms of healthcare access and quality, Qatar is ranked in the top 25% of the world and highest in the Gulf according to the WHO Global Burden of Disease 2018 report. The improvements of the healthcare system in recent years mean that we now measure our performance against the highest international standards. For example, for heart attack patients, the average time from arrival at hospital to acute coronary intervention is 68 minutes, compared to the international benchmark of 90 minutes, while 68% of stroke patients are treated with acute intervention within 60 minutes of arrival at hospital, exceeding the international benchmark of 50-60%.

The number of hospital beds has increased across the healthcare system in recent years. What are the plans to further increase the number of beds in both the public and private sectors?
Qatar's increasing population has meant the healthcare system has had to expand its infrastructure at a remarkable rate. Since 2016, we have opened seven new hospitals in the public sector, increasing the number of hospital beds in the public sector by around 40%. Qatar's private sector has also undergone significant expansion, with three new private hospitals and four diagnostic and treatment centers opened since 2016, as well as 95 general health centers and 89 company clinics. This expansion has led to a 36% in private sector hospitals beds in the country. This expansion in recent years has boosted the total bed capacity across the system significantly, and we are committed to continuing the growth of the healthcare system in Qatar in the coming years. From 2020 and beyond, there are plans for more than 20 new facilities, including specialist facilities for pediatrics, geriatrics, and mental health.

What are the plans and expectations of the Ministry of Public Health in the coming years in order to continue advancing the quality of care provided across the healthcare system?
Qatar's National Health Strategy 2018-2022 provides the framework and direction for the development of the healthcare system in the coming years. The strategy aims to further advance the quality of healthcare services we provide by focusing on seven priority population groups and five system-wide priority areas. The strategy's priority populations reflect an investment in both the current and future generations and include children, mothers, older people, and those with special needs. The system-wide priorities enable us to deliver a genuinely integrated model of care that strives to maintain well-being, while making sure that people receive well-coordinated care, delivered in a professional and safe environment at the appropriate level. Our efforts are guided by three overall goals: better health, better care, and better value. These help to ensure we focus on improving health and healthcare in a sustainable way.