Executive Summary

The current health of the nation
The future vision for a healthy Qatar
Strategy assessment and framework
Reimagining public health
Guiding principles and benefits

The Current Health of the Nation

Qatar currently experiences similar health challenges to many first world countries around the globe, with the prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease on a continuous rise.

Obesity:
70.1% of the 1,864 Qatari nationals who completed survey were identified as being overweight

Diabetes:
Approximately 17% of the Qatar adult population suffers from diabetes

Cardiovascular disease:
44.9% of those aged 18 to 64 years have three or more risk factors for cardiovascular disease

Road safety:
Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of premature death in Qatar

(Source: Qatar Stepwise Survey 2012)

The underlying causes
of ill-health

Over the past 40 years Qatar has evolved almost beyond recognition. The journey to becoming a world-leading economy has dramatically changed the lifestyle habits of its population – one that is now faced with a range of risk factors contributing to the development of the leading diseases.

The future vision for a healthy Qatar

Improving the health of Qatar’s people is a significant challenge. Developed countries around the world are struggling to turn the tide on the lifestyle habits that lead to poor health. This strategy recognizes the scale of the challenge but, through its clear objectives, acknowledges that reversing the trend of ill health can be successfully achieved if health is put firmly at the forefront of the agenda for everyone in Qatar.

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Increased education:

Raising awareness and educating people about what constitutes a healthy lifestyle is a fundamental principle of this strategy. It is not sufficient for the government healthcare organisations and clinicians to simply tell people to make healthy choices – individuals must be empowered through knowledge to do what is best for their health.

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Greater options:

Once people understand the need to prioritize their health, they must be given an environment in which it is easy to make healthy choices. For example, healthy food must be made accessible and affordable, and gyms, sports clubs and public areas to exercise in must be available to all.

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Strict legislation:

Enforcing laws that protect the health of individuals is vital. Strong legislation can improve road safety, ensure food, water and air quality is of the highest possible standard, and limit the growing consumption of fast food and usage of tobacco products. However, it must be communicated, enforced and its effectiveness monitored.

The purpose of the first Qatar National Public Health Strategy is to further develop an integrated and comprehensive system that can effectively address current and future public health challenges. By implementing this strategy, Qatar can optimize the health and well-being of all citizens and residents with particular attention to sub-populations at risk. The health objectives focus on the following:

  • Decrease the impact and burden of communicable diseases
  • Reduce morbidity and premature mortality related to the rapidly increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases
  • Empower people to make informed decisions to improve their health through effective public health promotion and prevention strategies that support an increase in their life expectancy and years spent in good health
  • Strengthen the management of, and preparedness for potential public health emergencies and outbreaks through disaster planning.

In addition, the strategy consists of the following elements:

Reimagining Public Health by establishing the vision for a reimagined public health system that will drive significant improvements in the health and wellbeing of the population.

Current health status of the population by summarizing the insight into the current public health challenges and indicating the system activity required to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of the population.

Public health system strategic enablers that support its initiatives, setting out how the public health system will improve its capability, performance, responsiveness and resilience to effectively manage the health of the population.

Implementation of a detailed framework that gives the strategy practical effect.

Through comprehensive, extensive and collaborative strategic design events and consultation with multiple stakeholders, four strategic enablers were identified. To assist in their delivery, 14 goals and 42 initiatives will be implemented; which when completed will see a public health system that is capable and resilient with capacity to manage the current, emerging and re-emerging public health challenges.


The four strategic enablers are:

Community engagement and empowerment
Community engagement and empowerment

 

  • The improved health of the entire population through targeted public health interventions that enable people to make better decisions that affect their wellbeing.
  • Greater local involvement and ownership of public health interventions and programs to support all generations.

Data Driven Intelligence

  Data driven intelligence

 

  • Establishment of an integrated surveillance and monitoring system that enables the utilization of comprehensive public health information to identify priorities and monitor policies and programs that strengthen national research capabilities.
  • Enhance preparedness and response processes to appropriately manage public health emergencies and disease outbreaks, locally, regionally and globally.
Workforce and System Capability
Workforce and system capability

 

  • A highly trained, qualified and experienced public health workforce with a skill set and capability that is aligned with the core functions of public health.
  • An enhanced local, regional and global public health network that enables integrated responses and supports staff development and knowledge transfer.

Leadership‭, ‬regulation and accountability

Leadership‭, ‬regulation and accountability

 

  • A trusted and accountable public health system that is enabled by robust governance, transparency and performance management
  • An effective legal and regulatory framework to appropriately support public health activities.

This strategy has been informed by an in-depth assessment of the health status of the population of Qatar. It is essential that public health programs and initiatives are cognizant of interdependencies across diseases, health behaviors, risk factors and population characteristics.

This strategy pledges to improve the health and wellbeing of the population across the following 16 areas, and associated 63 objectives.

Figure 1: 16 Health Areas

Figure 1: Health Areas

Considerable investment is required to enable all communities to thrive within a public health framework that supports the prevention and minimization of the burden of disease. This includes recognizing the need to invest in and collaborate across social, economic and environmental policy, programs and initiatives that impact on the broader determinants of health. Adopting a ‘Health in All Policies’ approach is essential to achieve this and will lead to significant benefits for the nation.

This strategy provides the framework for all public health system partners to deliver more effective public health policy, programs and initiatives for the population of Qatar through:

  • Evidence-based policy and decision-making

  • Workforce development and capability building

  • Good governance frameworks

  • Transparency and accountability

  • System agility and responsiveness

  • Integrated and collective action

  • A shift in focus from curative to preventative care

  • Enhanced early disease detection

  • Effective management of outbreaks and public health emergencies

This strategy is action oriented and outcomes focused to drive significant public health system reform over the next six years. It will enable the establishment of greater capacity and capability within the public health system to effectively deliver the functions required to manage a dynamic and rapidly growing population.

There have been significant achievements and extensive work undertaken in public health to date that should be recognized. This strategy builds upon these and provides the population of Qatar with greater opportunities to optimize their health and live longer and healthier lives. Communities will be empowered to be actively involved in decision-making processes and guide public health initiatives that are relevant, effective, sustainable and reduce health disparities.

Reimagining Public Health

A shared vision has been developed through extensive consultation and collaboration with stakeholders across the public health system. The vision is:
“A comprehensive, dynamic and collaborative public health system, working together with all stakeholders to improve the health and prosperity of Qatar.” 

The framework and direction to drive a public health system is founded on integration, collective actioning and alignment. It requires:

  • Strong governance that includes leadership

  • Targeted and effective regulation

  • Appropriate funding mechanisms

  • Integration of traditional and non-traditional health
    partners

  • Meaningful performance management mechanisms

Essential public health functions

This strategy has been informed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ten essential public health functions. The functional framework takes an integrative approach to improving the health status of individuals and population as a whole. It uses a data-driven approach to policy development, engagement and advocacy in order to support an effective and balanced set of health and social service based solutions. These solutions are delivered within a framework that is accountable, comprehensively evaluated and supported by the required depth and breadth of skills and capabilities in public health. To ensure that the future public health system is aligned with leading approaches globally, essential public health functions are central to the development of this strategy.

Leading public health approaches also highlight the pivotal role of the community in informing, developing and supporting effective responses to public health challenges. Active engagement with the community to contextualize health issues, and participation in the design and implementation of community-based interventions is critical. For public health measures to be successful, the community needs to be supported to understand, adapt and ultimately adopt the preventive measures put in place. This is of particular importance in Qatar given the diversity of populations and associated variances in health needs and challenges.

Figure 2: A systems approach to Public Health

Figure 3: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Framework

Figure 3: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Framework

This recognizes that all public health partners have a role to play and that system collaboration is not static. At times, public health partners will take the lead, sometimes they may function within a coordinating capacity and at other times they may enable other partners to effectively deliver public health activities. Acknowledging that the health of the population is influenced by social, economic, behavioral and environmental factors, a shared responsibility and approach is required across ministries and system partners.

Seven guiding principles for the future public health system

The Qatar Public Health Strategy utilizes the seven principles to ensure alignment of all priorities, goals and initiatives with the public health vision, its emerging challenges and opportunities for the public health system.

1. Collaboration

Foster collaboration and coordination of public health activities enabling a whole of system approach to public health

2. Accountability

Embed accountability at all levels of the system to ensure responsibility for the health and wellbeing of the population will be maximized

3. Authoritative and trustworthiness

Empower all communities through the dissemination of informative, consistent and clear information on key public health issues

4. Cultural appropriateness

Provide culturally, socially and environmentally appropriate responses to public health challenges that are meaningful to all communities

5. Data driven

Adopt a data-driven, evidence based approach to policy and decision-making for public health that can be robustly evaluated

6. Resilience

Establish a dynamic public health system, capable of proactively responding to developing situations and the changing health needs of the population

7. Sustainability

Embed quality improvement mechanisms at all levels of the public health system to ensure the sustainability of the system

Benefits

The successful implementation of the strategy will provide significant benefits for the population and the public health system as detailed below:

For the population‭:‬
  • Clearer and more consistent public health messaging

  • Better access to up to date evidence-based advice about staying well and optimizing health and wellbeing

  • Confidence that a timely and effective response will be made for any outbreaks, epidemics or disasters

  • Greater understanding of the role that individuals, families and communities can play in maintaining and improving their health and wellbeing

  • Opportunities to further develop health literacy

  • Ultimately longer, more productive lives and a reduction in illness, disease, injuries and premature death

For the public health system‭:
  • Effective and sustainable health protection and promotion mechanisms

  • Greater clarity on roles and relationships within the system

  • Enhanced public health workforce depth and capability

  • Reduced curative care burden as a result of improved public health interventions and preventive programs

  • Stronger governance to coordinate, enable and lead public health programs across the healthcare economy and beyond

  • Collaborative system focused on knowledge sharing and innovation in public health

  • More effective use of public health resources and investment

  • Embedded continuous improvement and performance management processes

  • Accountability and transparency

  • Agility and resilience