As part of the activities organised by the World Health Organization (WHO) to mark the International Day of Older Persons, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) will participate in a high-level international meeting arranged by the office of Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus to discuss the healthcare challenges and needs of older adults in a public health context.
Dr Hanadi Al Hamad, National Lead for Healthy Ageing and Medical Director of Rumailah Hospital and Qatar Rehabilitation Institute (QRI), will represent HMC in the meeting.
HMC’s close collaboration with WHO, in particular with the Department of Ageing and Life Course, has resulted in regular joint initiatives, including the development of the WHO Decade for Healthy Ageing action plan (2020 – 2030).
I am honoured to be part of the WHO virtual meeting and to have the opportunity to share the progress that Qatar’s healthcare sector has made in addressing the needs of our older persons.
Our commitment is demonstrated through Qatar’s National Health Strategy 2018 – 2022, which identifies healthy ageing as one of the key priority groups and aims to create the right conditions for older people to increase their active life years, stay well and live at home wherever possible.
In the last 50 years, the life expectancy of citizens in Qatar has risen by 15% – to around 80 years. Although overall the country has a relatively young demographic, as of 2019 nearly 70,000 people were aged 60 years and older, and this number is set to rise in the future, adding to the growing need for a national approach to promote healthy ageing.
According to Dr Al Hamad they have transformed their specialist services for older people in recent years to ensure the highest standard of care possible. They have expanded capacity and service provision through the development of the Enaya long-term care facility and opened the Daam Specialized Care Center. They are also maximising the use of homecare services to offer more care to older people outside the hospital setting.
Dr Al Hamad also highlighted the measures put in place across the healthcare sector to protect the elderly as part of the overall COVID-19 strategy.
We understood very early on that older people are most vulnerable to severe complications of the virus and we immediately put in place a range of measures to protect them. These efforts have been central to Qatar achieving one of the lowest COVID-19 mortality rates in the world.
The emergence of COVID-19 and the higher risks to older people led to a change in how Qatar’s healthcare sector delivers services:
- Services and medical consultations were offered virtually or via telephone.
- Experts in geriatric medicine offered advice via Urgent Care Helpline.
- Introduction of the Elderly Telephone Reassurance Service, where an experienced team makes regular phone calls to elderly citizens and residents to check on their general health and well-being. The team also offers advice on how to stay safe.
- An Elderly Pharmacy Medication Delivery Service to facilitate the distribution of important medicines for older people.
Dr Al Hamad said that the ability of the country’s health system to adapt has been one of their greatest assets throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. While the virus has forced many changes to how services were delivered, the elderly care teams have risen to the challenge, implementing new and innovative ways to safely deliver services, and that has been truly remarkable.
For updates and more information about HMC’s geriatric services, visit hamad.qa.