Global Healthcare Issues | Qatar

Global Healthcare Issues | Qatar

1st Mar 2017

Across the world a vast range of medical issues affect different parts of the planet to differing degrees. Some are global, some are regional and some can be specific to a much more localised area.

As a medic looking at taking your career overseas, knowing as much as you can about a country’s health issues can be the key behind successfully securing a new job. On top of this it can also play a major role in helping you to decide where your future could lie.

Here, therefore, is the sixth installment in our exclusive series of guides to the major health issues facing the countries we most commonly work with. In this article we will look at one of the world’s richest countries - Qatar.









GDP Per Capita



Qatari Riyal


Obesity and Diabetes


A trend throughout the Middle East that is replicated in Qatar is a high rate of obesity and, as a result, diabetes. In Qatar however there are a range of unique factors that play a big role in the country being shown to be the eighth fattest on earth.


Infrastructure for pedestrians is poor and, as a result, almost everyone travels by car. On top of this it is seen as a offensive and rude if, when offered, you refuse food as a guest. This leads to snacking and makes a balanced diet very difficult to achieve within the country.

Being obese is now seen as normal within Qatar and so relaxed attitudes towards the condition - despite government campaigns to increase awareness around the health conditions it can lead to - mean that rates are only looking as if they will increase in the future.

The most common issue linked with obesity in the country is diabetes. Around 16% of the adult population have the condition and the rates for male children are the highest in the MENA region. Diabetes is a major issue throughout the Gulf, but it’s particularly prevalent in Qatar.


Coronary Heart Disease


As with many other Gulf locations coronary heart disease is the biggest single killer of those living in Qatar. Around 73 of every 100,000 deaths within the country are as a direct result of the condition, which leads to the arteries becoming blocked with fat. Once again this is closely linked to the country’s major lifestyle and diet related problems, and highlights another way in which a poor lifestyle can weigh down a country’s healthcare infrastructure.


Birth Defects


Qatar is home to one of the world’s highest rates of birth defects. For every 10,000 live births in Qatar statistically 73.4 will have some form of birth defect according to statistics published recently. These can range from congenital heart defects to spina bifida and autism.


The reasons for this are varied. Some point to the high rate of consanguinity in marriages, whilst others point to a range of lifestyle related factors such as a folic acid deficiency, lack of vitamin D and even unhealthy habits like being overweight or smoking.


Mental Health Conditions and Suicide


Suicide is the ninth biggest cause of death in Qatar, and that only looks set to rise in the near future. A high percentage of the country’s 2.1 million strong population work in well paid, managerial roles. Whilst these workers are rewarded with generous salary packages the roles can lead to high levels of stress, with suicide all too often being seen as the only way out.


Added to this is the fact that a stigma still surrounds mental health in many Middle Eastern countries. Attitudes towards mental health, especially from older generations, remain old fashioned, with people often fearful of rejection if they seek help.


Mental health concerns have been labelled as the Middle East’s silent killer, and rates only look like rising in Qatar unless attitudes change soon.


Parkinson's disease

Qatar is home to the world’s ninth highest rate of Parkinson’s disease, a long term, progressive neurological condition that can be extremely debilitating. Parkinson's is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the substantia nigra which leads to a reduction in the brain’s dopamine levels.

Dopamine plays a vital role in the body’s movements, and a reduction in it is responsible for many of the symptoms relating to Parkinson's disease, which most notably include a tremor, stiff feeling muscles and the loss of the sense of smell


Exactly what causes the loss of nerve cells is unclear, as too are the reasons for the statistic being higher than average in Qatar. Some experts have pointed to certain genetic defects, however these are not prevalent in every case and so the theory has been discounted by many. What is known however is that, as Qatar’s population rises and ages, rates are likely to increase further.



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