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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Report: Shortage of Qatari doctors, nurses to challenge health sector

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stethoscope

Hospitals and clinics in the Gulf region are ill-equipped to cope with rising demand over the next decade, an analysis by management consultants McKinsey & Company has concluded.

The report points to a shortage of healthcare professionals – particularly those who are from the Gulf – as one of the key challenges facing the industry ahead of a predicted 240 percent increase in demand for services by 2025.

Currently, some 69 percent of doctors and 91 percent of nurses in Qatar are recruited from abroad, and many of these expats view their jobs as a temporary stopgap, the report states. This leads to a constantly shifting skill base within the country’s healthcare sector, and results in varying training standards, cultures and procedures.

The main solution to this problem is to encourage more locals to train as doctors, nurses and other healthcare specialists, the report argues, suggesting ways in which this could be achieved:

“Providers can help make medical professions more attractive to local students by creating professionally and financially rewarding career paths for clinicians who stay in the region.

Better salaries, substantial investments in professional training and development (such as residencies) and more flexible careers made possible by a greater degree of private sector participation should all help to attract GCC Nationals.”

Nurse stigma

The report also identified a shortage of local nurses as a particular problem, noting that many GCC nationals see the profession as “demeaning.”

In November, Dr. Mohammed Fathi Saoud of the nursing college University of Calgary-Qatar (UC-Q) addressed this issue, telling the Peninsula:

“The most important thing is to change the people’s concept about nursing. We need to take away the stigma that nursing is only about patient care. Nurses are now actively involved in medical researches and administrative jobs. We have some Qatari nurses at HMC who are now holding senior management positions.”

The report notes that specialist colleges like UC-Q and medical school Weill-Cornell are going some way to bolster the recruitment of nationals.

However, it states that the number of graduates from these institutions alone would not be able to keep up with the country’s predicted population growth, particularly as the percentage of Qatari students at these colleges is still low – around 25 percent at UC-Q, and between 20 and 25 percent at Weill-Cornell.

Healthcare burden

Qatar’s hospitals are already under strain from rapid population growth – and the country’s swelling numbers are resulting in an increasing demand for specialist care to deal with “the disorders of affluence” – namely, heart problems and diabetes, the report states.

The GCC region is currently battling an obesity epidemic. Last year, Qatar was named the “fattest country in the world,” after 70 percent of its native population was classified as obese.

Across the region, the demand for cardiovascular care will increase by 419 percent by 2025, McKinsey estimates, while diabetes care needs will increase by 323 percent.

There will also be an 100 percent increase in the demand for beds in the country’s hospitals, the report states.

This need is being met in part by a significant expansion of the country’s hospitals, with the new women and children’s hospital, Sidra, due to open fully next year, and the opening of new hospitals in Wakra and Dukhan.

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