Healthcare in Qatar

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Allianz Worldwide Care - Qatar

Introduction

Qatar, a nation rich in oil and gas natural reserves, is located in the Middle East and is neighboured by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Qatari healthcare at a glance

Qatar is a small wealthy country. Qataris are guaranteed free and equal access to healthcare through central funding, but alternate mechanisms of health care funding are being investigated.

Private healthcare is growing driven by popular demand for higher quality services. Healthcare costs are still relatively cost-effective compared with regional neighbours with highly developed private health care systems.

Since the country opened its first hospital 50 years ago, many changes and improvements have been introduced. The healthcare system is available to all; whether you are a national, expatriate or a tourist. Qatar has a public health service that provides free or highly subsidised healthcare and, generally speaking, it is of an excellent standard.

The one possible exception to this may be treatment for highly specialised services. Although the healthcare system has been substantially improved, it is not without its problems. A growing population, coupled with an increased need for expensive treatment, is costly to run.

Although healthcare is free or highly subsidised, as an expatriate or tourist, it is likely that you will have to pay some of your medical costs.

For these reasons it is recommended that tourists and expatriates avail of international health insurance.

Preventative healthcare

One of the main focuses for preventative healthcare is the fight against contagious diseases. As such, Qatar has a comprehensive list of vaccinations for newborns and was one of the first countries to add an anti influenza vaccine to this list. As well as contagious diseases, a section was set up for non-communicable conditions such as tobacco addiction, accidents and a unit dedicated to nutrition.

Hospitals

Qatar has a centrally funded public healthcare system.

All citizens have the right to free and equal access to health services that are financed from public funds. Healthcare is financed through directly allocated central funding from the public budget.

The government is currently actively pursuing an alternate system of healthcare financing through health insurance but this is not yet in place.

Expatriates are able to purchase health cards. The costs are still low and do not come close to meeting the actual cost of health care services. Healthcare costs in the private sector are largely out-of- pocket payment with the exception of some banks, private companies and the oil sector which subsidise their employees’ medical coverage in the private sector.

Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Emergency services

Emergency ambulance services in Qatar are centralised through the 999 Emergency system. Calls can be answered in English and Arabic. Ambulance cases are usually directed into the public hospital system. Response times are very efficient country-wide, but especially in Doha. Helicopter emergency rescue services are available across the country. Qatar Red Crescent operates their own private patient transportation services.

Pharmacy/Chemist

The NHA, working to international standards, controls the manufacturing and marketing of drugs. There are numerous pharmacies in Qatar, with some having late opening hours.  

Common complaints 

Non-natives, and those who are not used to searing summertime temperatures, can be susceptible to sunstroke and sunburn as temperatures often reach 50°C during the summer months. Dehydration is also something to be aware of. Respiratory problems arise due to the dust and sand in the air. For some expatriates, alcohol abuse is a prevalent problem that has been noted by the medical staff of Qatar.