As Qatar’s population grows, some residents have been finding it more difficult to access specialty care at public hospitals.
Sana, an 29-year-old expat who has lived in Qatar for three years, has been leading a fertility support group here that contains more than 40 other women. She and at least half a dozen other residents have recently contacted Doha News to complain about canceled appointments at Women’s Hospital regarding infertility treatments.
They say that they’ve been told priority is now being given to Qataris with fertility issues. Sana explains the situation here, and implores decision-makers to reconsider the changes:
Becoming a parent is a major milestone in one’s life. But while having a child may be easier for some, others have to go through various struggles to achieve it.
Despite a population of 2.2 million people, Qatar has only has a handful of clinics that offer in-vitro fertilization treatments (better known as IVF). Most of these clinics are private, and cost thousands of riyals for stimulation and follicle monitoring – after which the patient is sent overseas for the egg collection and embryo transfer.
So when the only hospital in Doha equipped to deal with infertility puts a ban on those that come to receive treatment, it’s a major blow.
This summer, Women’s Hospital – Assisted Conception Unit began contacting people with appointments scheduled for after Ramadan and canceling them, to the shock and dismay of many.
According to the receptionists who made the calls, no appointments are being given to expats until further notice, as the clinic works to give preference to Qataris who are seeking IVF treatment.
However, Hamad Medical Corp. has not confirmed or denied that any changes have been made. In a statement sent to Doha News, HMC said:
“As demand grows, we continue to accommodate referrals in the IVF clinic for patients of all nationalities. For questions about existing referrals, patients may contact 4439 3020 or 4439 6159. For new referrals to WH, patients should see their primary healthcare physician.”
Still, the canceled appointments have ruffled a lot of feathers. One of my friends has been waiting since March for her appointment in September. When it was canceled in July, she said:
“Shock was the first emotion that went through my whole body; I wanted to literally yell and scream at her but didn’t even know what to say, it wasn’t her (the receptionist’s) fault.”
She was told to seek help at Doha Clinic of Al Emadi Hospital, or call back every month after September to check the status and see whether they were openings at Women’s Hospital for expats to book an appointment.
This is the exact story of many women who once sat in the assisted conception unit for hours at a time just waiting to see the doctor. Some of them had been saving each and every penny for months to be able to bear the costs of IVF and the associated medication.
Specialists within the hospital have addressed the issue by writing letters of disapproval about this preferential treatment, and made the management aware of their unfairness.
However, no action has been taken in this regard. The point of even allowing those expats who had no children to at least be able to resume treatment was proposed, but in vain.
What really shakes my core is the fact that this change is irrational and a complete act of racism in all its glory, but no one seems to even bat an eyelid.
No one in the Hamad Hospital management seems to think this decision is wrong. Yes, the hospital itself is very busy, but how can you give preference to someone based on his or her passport color?
If Qataris living in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia or any other country were de-prioritized, wouldn’t this be considered a denial of basic human rights?
To many of us, the change at the clinic is show of disregard for the expat community living in Qatar. There are lots of couples that have been trying to have children for years without any luck and are relying on HMC as a last resort.
How are you even possibly think of moving ahead as a country ready to host the FIFA World Cup 2022 when you can’t even provide proper facilities for the expats that reside here?
Yes, I agree this is the Qataris’ country, and I’m proud to be able to live here and support its infrastructure. But society will have trouble moving forward if these boundaries and these issues aren’t dealt with.
We pay for each and every treatment and medication needed. Yet again, we are the ones who have to deal with being let down by a failing system. Expanding parking lots, fixing the reception area by adding a backsplash and waterfall and upgrading the cafeteria are not going to help, because there are still untreated patients who need to be seen.