Improved life expectancy, better health outcomes, and investment in health infrastructure have led to Qatar being ranked 5th in the world for health by the Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank. In compiling the health ranking in the annual prosperity index, countries’ performance in three areas, including basic health outcomes, health infrastructure and preventative care, and physical and mental health were evaluated.
The rise in the rankings from 13th place last year has been driven by the fact that Qatar has the highest life expectancy rate in the Eastern Mediterranean Region and globally ranks in the top 25 percentile for healthcare access and quality. The country’s healthcare spending is among the highest in the Middle East, with QAR 22.7 billion invested in healthcare in 2018, a 4 percent increase from the previous year.
Qatar is the only country in the region to score in the top five on the annual prosperity index, placing behind Singapore, Luxembourg, Japan, and Switzerland.
Her Excellency Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health said under the wise leadership of the Emir His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar has invested heavily in the health sector. She said the top placement in the international index is a reflection of the country’s commitment to system-wide priorities designed to both meet the needs of future generations and improve the health of the current population.
“The 2018 ranking recognizes the investment the country has made in health infrastructure. Over the past two years, we have opened six new public sector hospitals and more than 1,100 new hospital beds. We have also opened four new Health and Wellness Centers. The ranking also recognizes that our focus on areas such as cancer, diabetes, and smoking cessation are having a positive impact on people’s lives, and ultimately it recognizes that life expectancy in Qatar continues to improve,” said Her Excellency Dr. Al Kuwari.
Since 2017 Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has opened four new hospitals - Hazm Mebaireek General Hospital, Women’s Wellness and Research Center, the Qatar Rehabilitation Institute, and the Ambulatory Care Center - significantly expanding its infrastructure and the range of services offered to patients. In the past eighteen months, Sidra Medicine, Naufar, and four new Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) Health and Wellness Centers and one new Health Center have opened. Additionally, a number of new private sector hospitals and diagnostic and treatment centers have begun caring for patients and additional healthcare facilities are set to open this year.
Her Excellency said the opening of the new facilities, along with the expansion of existing services, is part of the long-term plan set out in the National Health Strategy 2018-2022. She said a focus on preventative care and integrated services across the whole health sector is helping ensure that when people need care, they are able to access it in a timely way.
“We’ve made real and substantial changes to the way the health system works, moving from focusing on treating the symptoms of a disease to helping people stay healthy. The establishment of new facilities and services like HMC’s Tobacco Control Center, the National Obesity Treatment Center, and PHCC’s Lifestyle Clinics, and the implementation of tools like the electronic patient health record across the public health system and the introduction of the MyHealth Patient Portal, are helping to empower patients to share the responsibility for their health,” added Her Excellency Dr. Al Kuwari.
Her Excellency Dr. Al Kuwari noted that Qatar’s health system is continually measuring itself against the very highest international standards. “It is a mark of how far Qatar’s healthcare system has progressed in recent years that it now not only meets but exceeds many international benchmarks for quality of care. For example, the international benchmark for the time that elapses from when a heart attack patient arrives at the hospital to the time the blocked artery is opened is 90 minutes, while at Heart Hospital, it is around 60 minutes. And at HMC 68 percent of stroke patients are treated with acute intervention within 60 minutes of arrival, above the international benchmark of 50 to 60 percent. We have also worked hard to focus our efforts on infection control and have an incidence per 10,000 patient days of hospital-acquired MRSA of just 0.2, well below 0.6 in the US and 5.5 in Switzerland.”
Qatar also ranks strongly for a number of health outcomes. The nation has the highest life expectancy rate in the Eastern Mediterranean Region and has seen the crude death rate per 100,000 population decline throughout this decade, from 99.1 in 2014 to 80.2 in 2017. Additionally, infant mortality rates have declined consistently in recent years, from 7.4 per 1,000 live births in 2015 to 5.4 per 1,000 live births in 2017.
The health ranking in the annual prosperity index uses data from the World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank Development Indicators, the Gallup World Poll, and a variety of other sources to measure and rank the health of people living in 149 countries.