The State of Qatar took its first steps in establishing a primary health care system as early as 1954 to cope with the increase in population. In 1978 the Ministry of Health developed a comprehensive scheme for building a primary health care system which was submitted to the Council of Ministers. The scheme included:
1- Launching of primary health care services through health centres, covering different parts of the country, and capable of providing excellent and comprehensive health and medical services (preventive and curative). The aim was to raise the health standard of the community as a whole. These services were planned with the objective of being the first health defence line, as well as being a broad base that would provide support to the hospitals.
2- Establishing modern specialized hospitals that would meet the people needs. H.H the Emir and the Council of Ministers approved the project allowing the realization of the primary health care system to be the instrument that would achieve the goals sought by the State. The State of Qatar preceded many of the countries of the region in this respect as it adopted Al Mata Declaration in which the WHO meeting considered the primary health care as the base of health care.
From the moment of launching the project the Primary Health care Department attended to all the needs of patients visiting the health centres rendering the following services:
- Diagnosis of the disease
- Dentistry – preventive and curative
- Pregnancy care
- Health education
- Pharmacy and drug prescription
- Social research
- Laboratory analyses
- Keeping of medical records
- Vital statistics
- Transfer of patients to hospitals
Primary health care services encountered many problems during its development due to negative concepts by the people who thought then that the outpatient clinic at Al Rumailah Hospital contained all specializations despite the availability of other health clinics. The Department also faced another problem which was the overall concept among health professionals themselves that their role was only curative. A third problem was the small number of hospitals, besides the shortage of human and technical cadres.
Over the last twenty years, the Primary Health Care Department the difficult task of taking its services to a new concept that would meet the spirit of the time we were in. This prompted the Department to promote and change the prevailing concepts regarding its services. This was realized through continuous cooperation between the Department and the rest of the Ministry of Health’s departments in the formulation of an operational plan to carry out the primary health care vision. The plan focused on:
1- Evaluation of the present centres.
2- Determining the real needs of the new health centres.
3- Launching of the electronic health record system
4- Determining the needs for human resources and means to attract them.
5- Study and drawing of the medical equipment specifications needed by the health centres.
6- Preparation of plans to assess periodical progress of project implementation.
7- Preparation of a continuous training plan for all technical and managerial staff.
As the execution of such plan would take time, the objectives were divide in phases since 1978, and they are still continuing, while observing of course the mechanisms needed for them to cope any new developments that would satisfy the modernization process in Qatar.
The international accreditation according to the JCI criteria was a natural result for the efforts made by the Primary Health Care Department, and the strategic vision adopted by the Supreme Council of Health to lay a solid foundation of such sevices in the State of Qatar.