The primary healthcare sector in Qatar is undergoing major revamping to meet the demands of the growing population of the country, a senior health official has said.
Rapid growth in the number of foreign workers over the past few years has been putting tremendous pressure on health centres across the country — most of them were established in the 1980s — according to Dr Mariam Abdul Malik, general manager of the primary healthcare centres.
She was reacting to findings of a survey conducted by Al Sharq daily on the performance of the health centres in the country. The majority of the respondents (71 percent) said they were satisfied with the medical services provided by the health centres but were not happy with the administrative procedures.
Many nationals and residents were critical of the registration procedures at the health centres and delay in issuing health cards. Some said the current system for keeping patients’ records was also faulty and had often led to files going missing.
Some of the respondents called for location of the health centres on demographic lines, noting that some highly populated areas lacked a sufficient number of such facilities.
Malik, while appreciating the high level of satisfaction expressed by the respondents with the medical services, admitted that there were some problems on the administrative side that needed to be addressed. She added that a series of measures were currently under way to improve their performance.
“On a normal working day, each health centre in the country gets 100 visitors on average. One can imagine the pressure that every section has been undergoing on a daily basis,” she said.
The mass resignation of a number of administrative staff recently had worsened the scenario, she said. This issue, however, has been resolved by appointing about 50 new staff.
She said special staff had been appointed to handle the medical records of patients. This was done to avoid situations where the patients themselves carry the records to the doctor and back, which can lead to some of the documents getting misplaced.
“There is a plan to link the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and all the health centres electronically. The patients’ records will be digitalized when this project is implemented. The manual system will continue until the new system comes into effect,” said Malik.
There is also a plan to link the laboratories with the pharmacies in each health centre to ensure that lab results are not lost. This project has been successfully implemented in some health centres.
More health centres are being set up in various locations while the existing ones have been renovated and upgraded to meet growing requirements.
“Most of the existing health centres were established in the 1980s. The relatively new ones, like the centres in Gharafa and Rayyan, came into being in the 90s. There is a need for more health centres in the country,” said Malik.
The Supreme Council of Health has approved a project to set up five new health centres. Many of the existing facilities have been expanded on the lines of the newly renovated Omar bin Khatab health centre and the Al Wakra health centre.
Responding to complaints about crowding in the Muntazah health centre, Malik said it could not be expanded as it lies sandwiched between a cluster of buildings. “We are on the lookout for new premises to shift the facility,” she said.
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