A few days ago, the largest maternity care provider in Qatar, the Women’s Hospital (WH) under the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) came to a standstill. Not because of any power or systems failure, but due to too many patients.
Qatar has one of the best healthcare systems in the world which is almost free and accessible to all. With a number of projects in the pipeline Qatar promises to provide health for all.
With the latest equipment and qualified manpower, Qatar’s healthcare system enjoys a good reputation in the medical world with several internationally recognised accreditations. However, a number of issues ail the healthcare system and the patients, like long waiting times regardless of the seriousness of the case.
While deliveries have increased from around 10,000 in 1997 to 15,532 last year at the Women’s Hospital, the number of hospital beds remains the same at 248.
As the healthcare system is not evolving fast enough to accommodate the growing population and its needs, the hospitals are facing problems of bed shortage, backlogs and overcrowding. So much so that recently the Women’s Hospital came to a standstill for some time.
Women who had had safe deliveries and were discharged declined to move from their beds until their families had come to collect them at their own pace. As all the inpatient beds were occupied, women who had delivered could not be shifted to the wards. As the labour rooms were full, women who came to the WH emergency could not be taken for delivery and were hence forced to deliver in the emergency.
“It was like inpatient stuck, delivery rooms stuck and the emergency stuck,” a senior official told The Peninsula.
It’s not the healthcare system that is to be blamed. According to experts, people here do not understand the concept of primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare. Many do not even understand the difference between normal clinics and emergency services.
To add to the troubles are many others who exploit the free services provided by HMC by staying long after their treatment is over. One-fifth of the beds available in the Hamad General Hospital (HGH) were occupied by in-patients who refused to leave.
Also, facilities like Primary Health Centers are underutilised as people do not have enough information about the services available there or they do not trust the PHCs. This mistrust has led to mushrooming of private clinics which make huge profits, at times exploiting the mistrust people have in the free government healthcare system. Though much development is happening in the healthcare sector, people still feel that the PHC services need to be improved for a perfectly functioning healthcare system.
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