Qatar is MidEast’s biggest healthcare spender

Expenditure rose 27% to $3.2bn in 2011, with the state accounting for 77%
Qatar is MidEast’s biggest healthcare spender
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)
By Shane McGinley
Mon 30 Jul 2012 10:47 AM

Qatar’s expenditure on healthcare rose 27 percent year-on-year in 2011, making it the highest per capita healthcare spender in the Middle East, according to a new official report.

The Gulf state spent QR9.5bn ($2.6bn) on healthcare in 2010, while this rose by 27 percent to QR12bn ($3.2bn) in 2011, according to the latest figures published by the National Health Accounts (NHA).

As a result, per capita expenditure rose from $1,561 in 2010 to $1,920 in 2011, making Qatar the biggest spender on healthcare in the Middle East.

The government’s share of the bill is also on the rise, with state funds accounting for 77 percent of expenditure in 2011, up from 75 percent in 2009 and 76 percent in 2010, the report said.

Hospitals accounted for 57 percent of funding, while the remainder was spent on outpatient clinics (14 percent), healthcare management and financing system (eight percent) and other service providers (21 percent).

“This latest report has given some important results. The first of them being that Qatar’s increase in healthcare expenditure has been one of the highest in the world, especially when considering the austerity measures adopted by most countries,” Dr Faleh Mohamed Ali, assistant secretary general for policy affairs at the Supreme Council of Health, was quoted as saying by the Gulf Times newspaper.

“The second is that the Qatari government has been the main financier of the healthcare services reflecting its commitment to improve these services,” he added.

The report also showed that while households in Qatar spent 13.8 percent of their overall direct expenditure on healthcare, down from 16 percent in 2010, the overall value rose from QR1.550bn to QR1.665bn.

The increase in funding is being felt by the population at large as a survey released earlier this year found 90 percent of Qatar residents were satisfied with the quality of healthcare provide by the state.

The report, compiled by researchers at Gallup, said Qatar ranked the highest on the list, compared to 79 percent satisfaction in the UAE and 60 percent in Saudi Arabia.

The boost in spending can be seen a direct response to the growing levels of diabetes and obesity in the country.

While Qatar is the richest per capita country in the world, it is also the obesity capital of the world, according to a report in the UK. According to a report in the Daily Mail, half of all adults in the state are classed as obese and 17 percent are suffering from diabetes, making it the most overweight country in the world.

An unhealthy combination of low levels of exercise and a growing popularity of fast food outlets has led to concern among local health activists.

“It's a very, very serious problem facing the future of Qatar,” Sharoud Al-Jundi Matthis, the programme manager at the Qatar Diabetes Association, was quoted as saying.

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