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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Filipino hospital in Qatar closer to becoming a reality

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Progress is being made on a new Filipino hospital in Qatar, with organizers saying that 16 doctors have already been brought on board for the project.

However, construction of the 200-bed facility is at least a year away, Greg Loayon, chairman of the Philippine Business Council – Qatar (PBC), told Doha News.

This will be the first Filipino hospital to be built outside of the Philippines, he said. Funded in part by Qatari investors, it will be managed and staffed by Western-trained Filipinos.

MMG hospital in Bohol
MMG hospital in Bohol

These professionals will be chosen from the Medical Mission Group Hospital and Health Services Cooperative (MMG) in the Philippines, which entails 19 hospitals and some 2,000 members.

MMG will also put up funding for the project.

Location not yet announced

Neither the location or launch date have been confirmed, but according to Laoyon, the hospital will be located in an area highly populated by the 260,000-strong Filipino community in Qatar.

Currently, partners are working to legally register the hospital here, which should be done by the third quarter of this year.

“Until it (the hospital) is registered as a legal personality in Qatar, we’re not in a capacity to sign any other agreements. So although the land has already been chosen, it is still too soon to say when the construction will begin,” Loayon explained.

Cuban Hospital
Cuban Hospital

This wouldn’t be the first hospital in Qatar to be staffed by nationals primarily from a single country.

More than 400 Cuban medical professionals work at the Cuban Hospital in Dukhan, which is part of the state-run Hamad Medical Corp. (HMC).

The staff operates under an agreement between the governments of Qatar and Cuba.

Serving the Filipino community

Qatar’s growing population continues to put healthcare services under strain, prompting the business council to brainstorm the idea of opening a Filipino hospital.

Speaking to Doha News, Loayon said that people tend to be more comfortable receiving medical care in their home countries or from those who speak their language. He added:

“If you look at the population of Filipinos in Qatar, there’s a lot. We as a country (the Philippines) are among the world’s largest exporters of medical service, and if we look at the number of hospitals in Qatar, population-wise we still need a lot more.”

So far, the hospital is prioritizing cardiology, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics services, with the aim of treating  “lifestyle diseases” like diabetes that are prevalent in Qatar.

“This is because many people who leave their home countries tend to forget their health and diets when they move abroad,” Loayon explained.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Talk of a new hospital only began a year ago, but council members have been running campaigns in Doha to educate the Filipino community on the project.

The facility will be open to all patients, but one added benefit for Filipinos is that they can use the same health insurance as back home, Loayon said.

The PBC was founded in November 2014 and is considered the “business arm” of the Philippines Embassy here.

The council works to provide assistance to Filipino entrepreneurs here and abroad.

All 14 council members are currently working to establishing a legal personality in the country by registering the group as a non-profit organization.

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