Qatar has good prenatal care provision, with 92% of Qataris having had at least 4 antenatal visits during pregnancy, and over 95% reporting having had appropriate blood pressure, urine specimen and blood sample testing during their visits. Gestational diabetes has been documented to have a high prevalence in Qatar and pre-existing obesity is a risk factor.

In Qatar, 96% of all new-borns received a postnatal health check. However, 68% of women reported having no dedicated post-natal care visit. In a nationally representative sample of the United States population, all women sampled reported at least one post-natal care visit.

Qatar has low infant and child-mortality rates, with the leading causes of infant and child mortality in 2013 being perinatal and congenital diseases accounting for 37% and 39% of all deaths in children <5 years of age, respectively. The 2011-2013 deaths data did not show a significant difference in rates of these conditions in Qataris versus non-Qataris.

Health implications

Inadequate prenatal care increases the risk of complications during birth and decreases the ability to identify existing medical conditions in the unborn baby. A lack of postnatal care means medical conditions affecting mother or baby may go undetected and contribute to depression. A 2010/11 Qatar based study of postpartum depression conducted in PHCC suggested a prevalence of 17.6%; and a UAE study highlighted the importance of postnatal depression screening as it showed within the sample group that after 3 months of giving birth and being discharged from hospital:

  • 22% of women showed depressive symptoms
  • 21% of women showed borderline depressive symptoms

Maternal and child health objectives

Although individual obstetricians in Qatar currently prescribe prenatal vitamins, there is no national public health program to promote pre-conception care, especially folic acid supplementation. The strategy’s Maternal and Child Health Objectives address these type of issues and aim to provide appropriate support at all significant life transition points. Additionally, the objectives focus on designing a program dedicated to recognizing post-natal depression as part of future planning for primary care screening.

Figure 16: Rates of death (under 5 mortality) from perinatal conditions and congenital malformations. (Source: Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics 2011 – 2013)

Maternal and Child Health Objectives

  1. MC1Improve the health and wellbeing of women and children by establishing post-natal depression screening programs, maternal and child health profiling and care
  2. MC2Establish a maternal and child public health unit within the MOPH
  3. MC3Establish a preconception service consisting of evidence-based risk assessment and health promotion counselling within primary care
  4. MC4Implement initiatives to encourage and promote breastfeeding through education and counselling within primary care