Qatar’s rapid population growth is continuing to strain the country’s health system, as both government and private hospitals struggle to retain enough doctors and provide enough hospital beds to match their patient loads, new data shows.
The figures for 2012, which have just been released by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS), show that there were 25.3 doctors per 10,000 people in Qatar in 2012.
This reflected a small increase in doctors from 2011’s total of 24.4 – but both figures showed a decrease from 2010, when there were 34.9 doctors per 10,000 people in the country.
Between 2011 and 2012, the total number of doctors increased by 404 people, but population grew much faster, affecting the ratios significantly. By the end of 2012, there were nearly 2 million people living in Qatar, up from 1.7 million at the end of 2011, and 1.63 at the end of 2010.
The new statistics also show that in 2012, there were 13.6 beds (in both government and private hospitals) per 10,000 people in Qatar.
This is up only slightly from 12.7 in 2011, despite the addition of 297 new beds following the opening of two new hospitals – the Cuban Hospital in Dukhan and the Al Wakrah Hospital.
The country’s government-funded Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCs) are also coming under increasing pressure, the figures show. The PHC in Abu Hamour, for example, reported 60,000 more visitors in 2012 than in 2011.
These figures seem to support a recent report on the GCC healthcare sector by Alpen Capital, which found that the expansion of Qatar’s healthcare services would surpass that of its neighbors in the coming four years, in response to growing demand.
Health of the nation
The MDPS statistics also include a variety of other interesting details about the health of the nation:
- Vaccination rates for babies remain high in Qatar, but some have decreased recently. For example, 95 percent of babies had the third dose of the Triple Vaccine, for Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus in 2010, compared to only 93 percent in 2012. There was a similar decrease in uptake of the Pneumococcal vaccine, too, from 98 percent in 2011 to 93 percent in 2012.
- Some 70 people died from “injuries and poisoning” in government hospitals in 2012. There were 6,610 such cases in total.
- The country had fewer paramedics in 2012 (502) than in 2011 (535), but more ambulances (52 in 2012, versus 40 in 2011.)
- During initial screenings at the Medical Commission, of the 653,399 seen in 2012, 172 expats were found to have HIV, the highest number since 2009 (201). Additionally, nearly 7,000 patients were found to have tuberculosis (up more than 1,000 from the previous year), and 116 had syphilis (while zero cases were reported in 2011).
And the Doctors I know are leaving or have left due to the risk of death/ injury on the roads , and school placing problems for their children. Doctors can earn good money elsewhere and know their skills are valued so off they go.
All the negative global media attention is not going to help new recruitment either.
None of the hospital doctors I’ve talked to have cited driving conditions as the reason they want to leave Qatar. They all live on-site and work far too longer hours for that to be the number one reason. They speak more of long hours, low pay, slow progression, politics and red tape.
Well two Doctors (Surgeons) on my compound which is a Hamad compound, have already left. the dangerous drive to and from Wakra was too much for them, So Im just speaking from experience. Hamad Doctors don’t live on site.
I was going to say they are lucky they don’t live on site like my Cuban Hospital but maybe they weren’t! Drive from Wakra! Yikes!
Dont the Cuban Doctors come out here as national service? It alleviates their need for conscripted armed forces duties? I also heard due to the Cuban communist state they get paid around the same as their comrades doing other jobs? Could be wrong but thats what I heard about tenth hand.
Yes it’s my understanding too that their wages are paid by the Cuban government and they are paid a Cuban doctors wage. Beautiful hospital BTW, empty of patients, top notch facilities, not utilised at all. Development gone wrong.
Its my first choice if I can get there without causing any significant complications. Luckily where I live I can easily get to the Dukhan Rd. Development gone wrong alright, like why wasn’t it built in or close to Doha? Any idea?
I did ask “why in heavens are you all the way out here” got shrugged shoulders, murmurs of “build and they will come” and “strategic position”. Seriously bonkers when Doha hospitals are heaving, I walked the corridors for 10mins and didn’t see one other patient. The staff friendly, eager but bored waiting for patients…. The machines would be gathering dust if it wasn’t for the industrious Cuban cleaner who was smiling and singing while she worked. It was surreal.
Maybe the reason it is out there is business continuity if anything happens in Doha? But seriously I think that is way too advanced planning and strategy to be honest, so who knows.
they are paid peanuts in fact, but they are really good and efficient, the hospital is new.
I’ve also talked to Doctors who have cited their experience of road accidents and their concern for their own children as considerations in whether or not to stay.
Driving is not the reason for doctors leaving. Long shifts and low pay. Also lack of good schools for their families. I know quite a few people who have left Doha or left their kids with relatives in their home country just so they can get a proper education. The only real solution and long term solution is to encourage their own people to become doctors. Qatar cannot depend on expats to an important service like the medical industry.
There are simply not enough Qataris to fill the gap and, with all due respect to the medical profession, who would wish that upon them anyway?
there are not enough Qataris??? you can count Qatari doctors on one hand….
Yes but you could have thousands more and still not necessarily meet the needs of the country.
to turn into a doctor you need minimum 10 years and to be a good doctor even more…….lots of sacrifices and study that most people here don’t wanna do
You must have many many fingers on your hand. You probably should see a doctor for that :p
Ohh yes driving is I know 2 surgeons without kids here who left because of the driving in the recent months. They simply were not happy to take the risk or the risk of their wife, of becoming another victim of the roads. They found contracts back in Europe that sustained their lifestyle and off they flew. However I agree that education is a reason, I also know other professionals that have gone because of the education system, or have left the kids and wife at home, only to regret coming over. I think recruiters don’t really pass onto candidates the realities of Doha life, which is a false economy because they get unhappy disengaged employees who leave quickly or at the strike of the contract ending.
let’s add the country does not retain good doctors with good working conditions! Another plague of this system: if you have valid doctors, keep them by treating them fairly!
We read about lack of schools, accommodation, worsen traffic, and now lack of health service. I believe next will be lack of food and water (hopefully not air).
I guess all of these are not common sense when you see such growth in population.
What I don’t get is why is the country expanding so much and building so much infrastructure for 300 K citizens? Am I missing something here? It cant be just for one game of soccer? I mean when the gas runs dry or alternate fuel sources are used, what happens then?
Interesting point. What it is effectively doing is building an economy that will require permanant staffing by expats as there are not enough Qataris to work in all the positions. Therefore, the strategy of the Qatari government is one that will permanantly leave the local population as a minority. And of course when the money runs out, everyone will go home and leave hundreds of empty buildings.
Interesting, Ill just sit back and watch it all play out, but unfortunately I’ll probably just be a bit of data on the internet when it does…maybe watching from above…
Hohoho, now that’s a really good question. Let me give you a hint; it’s not for the 300K; it’s for a far smaller number than that 😉
Now you’ve got me thinking.
I think that what we need to remember is that professional people such as doctors and nurses are not suffering as much from the global economic downturn when compared to other workers. As such they are not willing to come here or else they are conned into coming and quickly realise that they have been sold a lemon in regards to working conditions and the lifestyle and they leave. You have to look after your staff if you want to recruit and retain good talent and the current attitude that there’s always another one we can hire does not appear to be working out so well for the health care system. Yes there are always more doctors and nurses from 3rd world countries that will come here and work under these conditions but generally speaking (and I mean this with no disrespect to the hard working health care professionals that are from those countries), if you want “western” trained staff and standards then you have to improve the working conditions (which does not even mean throwing more money at them). It’s the same in most professional industries, you have to make yourself attractive to attract staff and rightly or wrongly Qatar is struggling with it’s image at the moment.