Communicable diseases account for around 8% of deaths in Qatar and remain a significant challenge for public health services.

Immunization and improved treatment have reduced mortality and morbidity rates in Qatar and across the world in recent years. Qatar’s Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI) ensures that all age groups are protected against priority diseases for their age group. The childhood immunization schedule protects children against 14 important vaccine preventable diseases. Together with the adult schedule, recommended vaccinations for high risk groups and the high rates of coverage assists with addressing communicable diseases.

However, there are a number of issues of concern that include the increasing worldwide antibiotic resistance, new threats such as Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and increasing worldwide travel facilitating the spread of disease.

In 2014, Varicella (chicken pox) and influenza-like illness were the most commonly reported communicable diseases in Qatar. The incidence of both these diseases increased between 2013 and 2014. Diseases that are often transmitted by food or water, including E. histolitica (amoebiasis), salmonella and typhoid food poisoning remain problematic.

Figure 19: Reported cases of selected communicable diseases in Qatar (2011-2015) with 2015 trend compared to 2014 (Source: Communicable Disease Bulletin, CDC Qatar 2015, June 2016)

Health implications

Communicable diseases account for a significant number of deaths each year in Qatar, negatively affecting the quality of life of residents that places considerable burden on Qatar’s healthcare system.

Qatar supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 3, Good health and wellbeing commits to ‘ending the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases and combats hepatitis, waterborne diseases and other communicable diseases by 2030. ‘

Communicable Diseases Objectives

The Strategy’s Communicable Disease Objectives identify the need for effective prevention programs, including education, awareness and comprehensive immunization programs. The incidence of measles has decreased in the resident population but the aim is to eliminate measles completely. Another key initiative is the encouragement of adult immunization through the promotion of vaccination services through Primary Health Care Corporation clinics and to high risk populations so that Qatar can continue to tackle communicable diseases and maintain very low levels of disease such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis.

Communicable Disease Objectives

  1. CDC1Implement and sustain effective HIV prevention programs, including education and awareness, and effective anti-retroviral therapy
  2. CDC2Implement a comprehensive control program for sexually transmitted infections
  3. CDC3Implement effective viral Hepatitis prevention programs
  4. CDC4Implement effective Tuberculosis control programs, including diagnosis, reporting and treatment
  5. CDC5Strengthen system capacity to detect and respond to foodborne disease events, including reducing response times, improve procedures for determining the source, identifying contributing factors, and enhanced reporting mechanisms
  6. CDC6Achieve and sustain recommended routine and adult immunization coverage for the population, including high risk groups/li>
  7. CDC7Achieve and maintain recommended communicable diseases eradication for polio and elimination of measles, rubella, and tetanus
  8. CDC8Implement and enforce vaccine management, storage and handling guidelines to minimize wastage and ensure adequate supply
  9. CDC9Align recommended committees and sub committees with International Health Regulations 2005