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Healthcare in Qatar is perceived among the best available in the Middle East. The country offers expats both private and public options, and health centres in Doha boast cutting-edge medical equipment, up-to-date facilities and highly-trained specialists.
Expats can use both the public and the private system, but many prefer the latter to avoid the bureaucracy associated with the former. Health insurance isn't provided by the government, and we recommend that all expats living in Qatar take out private health insurance to cover costs as these can rise quickly in the case of medical complications and emergencies.
Public healthcare in Qatar
Public healthcare in Qatar is managed by the Hamad Medical Corporation, a non-profit organisation that has overseen the country's major public hospitals since 1979. It has created an intricate and efficient network of hospitals and clinics which provide free treatment to local Qataris and largely subsidise services for expats at institutions such as the Hamad General Hospital and Al Khor Hospital.
Foreigners moving to Qatar only need to apply for a health card to take advantage of state-sponsored healthcare. With this health card, emergency treatment is most often free in public hospitals, though patients must pay for further check-ups and medication. Expats in the emirate will also need to pay nominal charges for tests, consultations and inpatient care.
Getting a health card
Applications for a health card can be completed at any government clinic or hospital. Expats may need to bring their passport, visa and passport-sized photographs to complete the application form and then pay a basic fee. More information on this and health card renewals can be found on the Qatar Portal.
The Qatar health card is presented upon treatment at any public facility, giving the bearer a subsidised rate.
Private healthcare in Qatar
The Qatari government is also a strong advocate for the development of private sector services. Many healthcare professionals in Qatar are expats themselves, lured there by attractive salary packages and the spirit of adventure.
Private healthcare is available either on a pay-as-needed basis or as a service covered by local or international healthcare providers. Private systems usually allow greater flexibility and as some fees must still be paid with public medical care, many residents opt for it.
Health insurance in Qatar
Given that treatment costs can accumulate quickly, it is advised that expats have some sort of insurance. When exploring various insurance programmes, we advise that expats check what each one encompasses and the extent of their coverage.
Expats moving to Qatar should make an effort to have their sponsor/employer include private health insurance in their contract. This coverage, in addition to the basic health card, will ensure that all their healthcare concerns are covered while living in Qatar.
Pharmacies and medicines in Qatar
There are plenty of pharmacies available, some of which are open 24 hours or otherwise late into the night. Most stock a good range of products, although it’s always a good idea to bring a small supply of any necessary medication from home until its availability in Qatar can be confirmed.
We recommend expats carry official doctor’s prescriptions as some medication may be considered controlled substances in the country. Generally, the official website Qatar Council for Healthcare Practitioners can answer specific questions on medication and medical care.
Health hazards in Qatar
While Qatar boasts security and safety, there are some issues to be aware of. Road accidents are common and given Qatar’s hot climate, there is a risk of sunstroke. Be sure to stay hydrated and avoid going outdoors in the heat.
Emergency services in Qatar
Qatar has a large fleet of emergency vehicles with impressive average response times. Expats can dial 999 to call the police, the fire department or an ambulance.