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Mon 10 Jun 2013 08:21 AM

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Qatar needs more healthcare staff, funding - study

New official report forecasts need for $550m more funding and 2,000 more doctors and nurses

Qatar needs more healthcare staff, funding - study

Qatar will need to inject almost $550m more into its healthcare system, and hire nearly 2,000 more doctors and nurses in order to improve services in the Gulf state, according to the recommendations of a new official study.

The Gulf state has launched its National Primary Health Care Strategy 2013-2018 by the Ministry of Health’s Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) and concluded that primary healthcare in Qatar needs a government investment increase from QR1.8bn ($494m) at present to QR3.8bn by 2017 and QR4.1bn by 2022.

In addition to more funding, the new strategy said operational staff will need to more than double in the next five years, with almost 1,900 extra doctors and nurses needing to be hired by 2018.

“A wider range of diagnostics should be made available in primary healthcare. This is not simply a question of buying equipment (although nearly QR400m in non-facilities capital spending will be required by PHCC in 2013 according to the modelling outputs), but also having available staff trained to operate that equipment,” the report said.

Overall, primary healthcare staff will increase from 4,000 staff in 2013 to 5,900 in 2017. The report also said it planned to gradually introduce more efficient ways of working and greater productivity, which it believed would see staff numbers decrease to 5,400 by 2022 and a savings of around QR500m a year.

The introduction of a social health insurance (SHI) by 2016 has already been announced, however “the method by which primary health care providers are reimbursed by insurers has not yet been stipulated,” the strategy claimed.

The report said experts believe preventive healthcare is fundamental in Qatar as one out of three Qatari men smoke, 41 percent of Qataris are obese and 91 percent of the population eat fewer than five servings of fruit and vegetables a day.

Qatar established the PHCC in 1978 and it currently operates through 23 primary health care centres, with 13 located in Doha city.

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 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.

It is not surprising that Qatar also has one of the highest satisfactions rates in the Gulf when it comes to healthcare.

According to a study by the Gulf Cooperation Council, Qatar had the highest levels of satisfaction at 90 percent, followed by the UAE at 79 percent.

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