A new research showing how death rates among the population are skewed by the effects of migration could have implications for health policy in the region.

Researchers at the Institute for Population Health at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q), demonstrated that high immigration of young healthy adults reduces mortality rates. This means that further research may be necessary to ascertain the true effectiveness of current health programmes and health policies.

Dr Karima Chaabna, the report’s lead author and a population health and communication specialist at WCM-Q, explained that the research was conducted after she saw the Global Burden of Disease study – the most comprehensive research to date into worldwide mortality – that mortality rates in the Gulf are falling. Dr Chaabna wanted to know why, and whether better healthcare is the answer.

More than 80% of Qatar’s population are migrants. Using statistical analysis, we looked at the association between the variation in Qatar’s population size and death rates and found that there is a significant association.

Essentially, the overall mortality rates have been decreasing because migration has been increasing. The majority of migrants are physically fit, male, blue collar workers who are also screened for conditions like tuberculosis, hepatitis and HIV. Their good health essentially improves the average for the country, and reduces the death rates.’

Dr Chaabna also said that further research would have to be conducted with individual groups to ascertain and better understand the efficacy of various healthcare and outcomes.

Dr Sohaila Cheema, co-author of the paper and Director of the Institute for Population Health explained that the research does not negate the fact that Qatar has made huge strides forward in improving mortality rates and general healthcare.

WCM-Q is at the forefront of helping the country in moving forward with its public health agenda.’

Dr Ravinder Mamtani, another co-author of the research and Senior Associate Dean for Population Health, Capacity Building and Student Affairs at WCM-Q, said that no matter where you are in the world, healthcare remains an evolving process.

Qatar has done phenomenally well with policies and interventions that have reduced the number of road traffic fatalities. Use of speed cameras, improving triage, availability of good quality emergency and trauma care, traffic laws and their enforcement, and police vigilance have all contributed to this improved situation and declining deaths. Improvements have been also noted in other areas of non-communicable diseases. But we need to do more.

I can honestly say that healthcare is improving in all sectors and is helping achieve the goals and objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030.’

For more information about the WCM-Q research, visit their website at qatar-weill.cornell.edu