Qatar is leading the global fight against cancer, setting a new standard for cancer care with the launch of the Qatar Cancer Plan 2023-2026 ‘Excellence for All’ program.
This groundbreaking initiative ensures that any patient suspected of cancer receives secondary medical care from a specialist within 48 hours. This would be a first in the world. The program was unveiled at the Itqan Clinical Simulation and Innovation Center at Hamad Bin Khalifa Medical City in the presence of Qatar’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
A Comprehensive and Collaborative Approach
Key stakeholders in the country and World Health Organization (WHO) experts collaboratively developed the Qatar Cancer Plan. This strategic plan actively covers every aspect of a patient’s entire healthcare journey. They encompass awareness and prevention to early detection, proper diagnosis, holistic treatment, and palliative care.
The comprehensive plan consists of 87 clear, tangible, and measurable deliverables within a robust governance framework. These deliverables are organized under 23 strategic objectives across seven chapters. They are: prevention and public education, early detection and screening, quality treatment and ongoing care, holistic support, childhood cancers, surveillance and research, and strategic enablers.
Advancing Cancer Care
The Qatar Cancer Plan extends on the robust foundations of the National Cancer Strategy 2011-2016 and the National Cancer Framework 2017-2022. This is according to the Qatari Health Ministry (MOPH). Remarkably, Qatar leads the world by providing specialist medical care to suspected cancer patients within 48 hours. They also lead in diagnoses within two weeks, and treatment initiation within an additional two weeks.
Qatar’s Minister of Public Health, Her Excellency Dr Hanan Mohammed Al Kuwari, emphasized the government’s commitment to providing the best sustainable health services to current and future generations. Additionally, the Cancer Plan aligns with the Qatar National Vision 2030. This is a wide-ranging initiative aimed at transforming the nation into an advanced society by 2030. Dr Al Kuwari stated, “Through the Qatar Cancer Plan for Excellence for All, we strive to continuously improve the care we provide to cancer patients, their families, and the community.”
The plan aims to further enhance the capacity and capability of the health system. Therefore, it ensures that the people of Qatar have access to the best possible care. Its goal is also to establish Qatar as a regional leader in cancer care.
Emphasizing Holistic Care
The program recognizes the importance of psychological and social aspects of patient care. Sheikh Dr. Mohammed bin Hamad Al Thani, Director of the Public Health Department at the Ministry of Public Health, explained that the plan lays the foundation for comprehensive cancer care, which includes these vital aspects. It also promotes the development of clinical research and fosters international cooperation in this field through the establishment of the Cancer Research Office at the Ministry of Public Health.
The Cancer Plan emphasizes the significance of investing in this area for its benefits at the level of public health and well-being it brings to the people of Qatar. Also, it seeks to contribute to saving lives and improving the care and support provided to the population. In addition, it hopes to achieve a positive return on investment by delivering better value. Subsequently, it supports the provision of sustainable health services.
Reflecting on the Impact
The potential impact of the plan is enormous. Firstly, as Professor Lord Darzi, Chair of the National Cancer Governance Council, said, “The plan sets out strategic objects and deliverables that will fundamentally alter how cancer care is delivered that will have direct impacts on the quality of care for those with cancer, and the support provided to patients, survivors, carers, and the wider community across Qatar.”
Finally, the launch of this plan underscores the country’s commitment to advancing healthcare. The program is based on a strategic collaborative approach between all health authorities in the country. Consequently, it promises to revolutionize the cancer care landscape, providing hope for patients and families affected by the disease.
Image credit: MOPH