Qatar unveils new National Health Strategy

Qatar has unveiled their ambitious National Health Strategy 2011-16 (NHS). The six year plan is designed to transform Qatar’s existing medical infrastructure into a comprehensive and integrated healthcare system accessible to all. It is aimed to generate the positive health outcomes set about in the development plan named Qatar National Vision 2030.

The strategy was the result of comprehensive year-long consultation and was officially endorsed in December 2010 by Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health (SCH). The Qatari government has budgeted QR 608 million (USD 167 million) for the NHS’s management operations.

Qatar’s healthcare system faces several major challenges: Healthcare spending has quintupled since 2001 to QR 4.33 billion (US$ 1.2 billion). Spending per capita has tripled to QR 4,383 (US$ 1204) in 2007. The country also misses a regulatory framework, a consistent health policy or medical performance oversight. There is a shortage in quality healthcare professionals and efforts to recruit, particularly for private practice, have not  had much success. The rapid growth and aging of the population is placing an increasing burden on the current healthcare infrastructure, leading to even longer waiting times and growing dissatisfactions.

The NHS has drafted several major goals to transfer the healthcare system, with 35 individual development projects drafted to achieve these goals. Primary healthcare will be the foundation of the new strategy, shifting from the predominantly hospital-based curative care system into a more integrated community-based model.