Over 13,500 patients from blockading countries cared for at HMC since the blockade started last year

One year after the Qatar-GCC blockade began, Dr Yousef Al Maslamani, Medical Director at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) said that services remain unaffected, adding that the blockade has provided an opportunity to demonstrate innovation and self-sufficiency.

Dr Al Maslamani said that last year has been one of the busiest in their history in terms of expansion. The new Medical City complex was officially opened and they also introduced and expanded a number of other services and facilities.

The blockade forced us to look inward to find new solutions and different ways of working to deliver our services. While our focus has continued to be providing each and every one of our patients with the best possible care, the blockade presented an opportunity to be more innovative and self-reliant.’

Since the blockade began, over 13,800 patients from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt have been cared for by HMC. Dr Al Maslamani said Qatar has remained committed to providing healthcare services to the entire population, noting that patient rights should never be affected by political differences.

We have continued to provide the best possible care to every patient, regardless of their nationality. Our care teams work with each patient to ensure they receive the right treatment, in the right place, at the right time, and that they have the information they need to make informed choices about their care.’

He noted that in cases where patients chose to stop receiving care in Qatar, every effort was made to ensure continuity of care, including communicating with their new healthcare team and providing the necessary documentation.

If one of our patients chooses to stop receiving care at any HMC facility for any reason, our clinical handover process enables safe transfer to a facility of their choice. Our ultimate goal is to provide patients and their families with the support required to ensure the best possible health outcome.’

Dr Moza Al Hail, HMC Executive Director of Pharmacy, said that while there was never any public health risk associated with a medication or medical supply shortage, some patients were initially very concerned about the potential impact of the blockade on supply. She noted that a number of local manufacturers prospered as a result of the blockade, which became an opportunity for them to expand and increase their production. The situation also enabled HMC to test and strengthen their contingency plans.

Dr Al Hail said that as part of the regular planning process, HMC maintains a large stock of medication and medical supplies. At any given time, he said that they have many months’ supply of medications and other vital items.

While some supply routes were interrupted, we successfully sourced new suppliers and explored domestic opportunities. Today, we have strong relationships with several local companies and factories that provide various medications, including a number of the intravenous injection drugs our patients rely on.’

Noting that HMC pharmacies receive around 6,500 patients each day, she reiterated that the loss of some regional supplies provided an opportunity to maximise ‘made in Qatar’ solutions as well as establish direct relationships with many international suppliers.

Dr Al Maslamani reiterated Dr Al Hail’s view about the positive impact of the blockade, explaining that in early June last year, the HMC procurement team began working with international companies to coordinate direct purchase agreements that would prevent potential delays or interruptions caused by working with regional agents based in the blockading countries. He said that their procurement teams also began looking at alternative suppliers who could provide the same or similar replacement products.

Dr Maslamani, who is also the Director of the Qatar Centre for Organ Transplantation, noted that the blockade has had no impact on Qatar’s organ donation programme. There are currently close to 300,000 individuals on Qatar’s organ donor registry and the programme continues to expand with the annual Ramadan campaign kicking off late last month.

For more information about the services of the different facilities at HMC, visit their website at hamad.qa

Cover Image: HH The Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, during the opening of the new HMC Medical City, December 2017.