Victims of child abuse may finally have an avenue to seek help in Qatar with the launch of a new program at Sidra Medical and Research Center.
The Sidra Child Advocacy Program (S-CAP) aims to take a comprehensive approach to the problem of child abuse in the country.
According to government figures, one out of every five children in Qatar are subject to abuse either at home or in school.
But there previously existed no clear mechanism for parents or caretakers to address this issue.
How it works
Sidra’s S-Cap response team consists of pediatric doctors, nurses, social service workers and psychiatrists. All have been trained to recognize signs of abuse, either mental or physical.
These staffers also know how to report crimes via the proper legal procedures. Sidra said they will also operate under privacy and confidentiality requirements.
The program runs through the hospital’s outpatient department, via referrals from schools, other public and private hospitals and healthcare centers.
It was developed following meetings with education, medical, legal and human rights experts last year.
In a statement, Sidra’s Division Chief of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Khalid Mohamed Al Ansari, said:
“The S-CAP program cannot work in isolation — it is a collective responsibility. I firmly believe it is our duty to educate the public, work closely with stakeholders and build awareness of this pressing issue.
For such programs to be effective, it requires ongoing commitment from all partners to keep our children safe and to support with the healing process.”
Long time coming
Health officials have been pushing for Qatar to adopt a more comprehensive approach to child abuse for years.
They’ve said that cases often go unreported due to bureaucratic hurdles, insufficiently trained healthcare providers and a reluctance to break cultural taboos.
And families of victims have also complained about a lack of professional support services for such issues in Qatar.
However, some steps have been made to tackle abuse.
Last year for example, HMC said staff at the country’s Pediatric Emergency Centers have now been trained in identifying cases of abuse and violence against children.
“They will also ensure that the child and their family are directed to the right authorities so that the case is handled in the most humane and sensitive manner, without impacting on their rights or privacy,” the provider said.