Healthcare in Qatar
Qatar has an excellent healthcare system as an abundance of affordable public hospitals, clinics and private medical centres provide first class medical services. Due to the countries small population and high number of medical institutions waiting times in Qatar are virtually non-existent. For specialist treatment however many expats and Qataris seek medical assistance outside of the country. All expats should be covered by health insurance as well as apply for a Qatari health card.
To access free treatment at one of Qatar’s state hospitals it is necessary to present a Health Card. Acquiring a health card is not mandatory however as emergency treatment is free to card holders and non emergency consultations are subsidised. Health card holders are also entitled to receive prescriptions at government pharmacies.
For expats to obtain a Health Card expats must provide copies of their passport and Residence permit as well as copies of their Qatari ID, two passport-sized photographs and will have to pay a small fee. These should be taken to any government run hospital or clinic. A card normally takes two to three weeks to process and can be collected from the hospital or delivered for an additional fee.
Although the government healthcare system is of a high standard most western expats opt for private healthcare. There are a large number of private clinics and four private hospitals in Doha alone. Private hospitals and clinics are of a high standard with short waiting times and are staffed by English speaking staff.
In Doha there are many pharmacies that open 24-hours a day. Elsewhere in Qatar however they are relatively rare but they do perform home deliveries for prescriptions. Health Card holders can benefit from subsidised medication in government pharmacies, while private insurance policies may cover certain medications too.
Not all medicines require a prescription, and some that may need a prescription in other countries are available over the counter, so a call to the pharmacy may avert the need to visit a clinic or hospital. On the other hand, some drugs which are issued routinely in many countries are not permitted in Qatar, including codeine and some anti-depressants.
To call an ambulance in Qatar you need to dial 999. The ambulance will need to be given a landmark and directions due to the country’s vague address system.