Minister of Public Health in Qatar Attends Community Mental Health Conference

Press release
Published April 22nd, 2018 - 05:16 GMT
Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health
Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health

Highlighting the importance of providing community-based mental health care and ensuring integration with other healthcare services, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) recently hosted its fourth Annual Symposium for Community Mental Health Services in Qatar. The opening ceremony for the event, which brought together around 200 mental health experts and key stakeholders from across the region, was held in the presence of Her Excellency Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health.

Her Excellency Dr. Al Kuwari said the annual symposium provides an important platform for stakeholders to discuss a number of topical issues, including the need to balance hospital-based mental health services with community-based services. Her Excellency also highlighted mental health and well-being as one of the priority areas of the National Health Strategy 2018-2022, noting its specific focus on encouraging people to speak openly about mental health conditions as part of removing the associated stigma and encouraging early treatment.

“Good mental health and well-being for the people of Qatar, supported by integrated mental health services that provide access to the right care, at the right time, in the right place, is a key tenet of the Public Health Strategy. While substantial investment has been made to provide accessible, effective, and high-quality community-based mental healthcare services, collectively we still have a significant task ahead of us. I am therefore delighted to see HMC, Primary Healthcare Corporation (PHCC), Sidra Medicine, Naufar, as well as other healthcare organizations actively participating in this event,” said Her Excellency Dr. Al Kuwari.

Mr. Mahmoud Al Raisi, Chief of HMC’s Continuing Care Group, said as the main provider of specialist mental healthcare in Qatar, HMC is proud to take a key role in providing a platform for dialogue among stakeholders, particularly around the future development of integrated mental health services in Qatar.

“Mental health services in Qatar are undergoing significant change in order to deliver care that better meets the needs and expectations of the communities we serve. This is the fourth year we’ve organized this event and our focus this year was to bring together stakeholders with a shared interest in working collaboratively to establish a more seamless pathway for our patients as they journey between different service providers,” said Mr. Al Raisi.

He added, “The event represented an important opportunity for key stakeholders to gather and discuss challenges and lessons learned and for all of us to encourage positive, open dialogue about mental health issues and the direction we need to take in developing future support.”

A variety of health professionals from both public and private sector providers, as well as patients and their families, social service workers, and representatives of community-based organizations, attended the one-day event. It included presentations on community mental health services in Qatar, the ‘Better Together’ initiative, services available at Naufar and Sidra Medicine, and also featured a speaker from Ireland who detailed the modernization of mental health services in that country.

Dr. Mohamed Ali Siddig Ahmed, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Director, Community Mental Health Services, emphasized the importance of the symposium in fostering partnerships among organizations and individual stakeholders across Qatar as a strategy to successfully integrating community mental healthcare with primary and secondary healthcare services.

“The delivery of mental health care is complex and multifaceted, but evidence tells us that services delivered close to home, which includes long-term residential facility care, treatment specific to the diagnosis and needs of individual patients, and coordination between mental health professionals and support agencies are the keys to success. Community-based mental health services are becoming the preferred model for the delivery of psychiatric care, in contrast to more traditional hospital-based services. Community-based services enable people with mental disorders to maintain family relationships, friendships, and jobs while receiving treatment. Additionally, when compared to hospital-based care, community-based services often facilitate earlier treatment and rehabilitation,” said Dr. Ahmed, who was also the lead organizer of the symposium.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates suggest that mental health disorders affect more than 1 in 4 people worldwide in the course of their lives and about 1 in 10 adults at any one time, with the most common disorders being depression and anxiety. Mental health issues can affect how a person feels, thinks, and acts. They can occur for a number of reasons and affect anyone regardless of social circumstances, age, or gender. Just like a physical illness, mental illness can be treated and HMC encourages people who are concerned about a mental health issue to seek professional help, placing an emphasis on early diagnosis and support.

Background Information

Hamad Medical Corporation

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is the main provider of secondary and tertiary healthcare in Qatar and one of the leading hospital providers in the Middle East.

For more than four decades, HMC has been dedicated to delivering the safest, most effective and compassionate care to all its patients.

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