Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dr. Hanan Al-Kuwari, Managing Director of HMC, on the future of Healthcare in Qatar

Dr Hanan Al-Kuwari sits at the head of a medical corporation that takes in seven major hospitals, all of which have been shortlisted for excellence awards, as well as state of the art research facilities. Dr. Hanan is also a board member of the most high profile medical executives and committees in Doha. As Managing Director of Hamad Medical Corporation, the premier non-profit health care provider in Doha, her meteoric rise through the ranks of the medical elite puts paid to the notion that women do not succeed in the workplace in the Middle East.

HMC continues to grow exponentially and with it the responsibility of overseeing all the operations and strategic direction sits squarely on the shoulders of Al-Kuwari. “We have achieved so much but there is more to do. In Qatar we have a double burden of disease.  That is we suffer from diseases of the modern world and diseases of the developing world. We have modern disease like cardiovascular disease, and diabetes in particular. But we are also dealing with infectious diseases such as TB, and we have an excellent screening program in order to capture the infection.”

Al-Kuwari is well aware of the opportunity such screening programs present to students and faculty at WCMC-Q. She says, “We are building a new infectious diseases center in partnership with Qatar Foundation and the Supreme Council of Health. There we are collaborating with the Institute Pasteur to utilize the latest research around TB and other infectious diseases. This will afford Cornell students an opportunity to collaborate with us on the very latest work being done in that area. It means the students will have the opportunity to understand the nature and protocols of a variety of diseases.”
With a BSc and MSc in Healthcare Management Al-Kuwari studied in London, obtaining a PhD from Brunel University, and an excellent flair for the English language. She says she enjoyed her time in England where she resided in Bloomsbury with its rich cultural and literary heritage. Al-Kuwari begun her career at HMC in 1996, by 2003 Al- Kuwari was Executive Director of the Women’s Hospital and in 2005 she was appointed the Assistant Managing Director for Operations, becoming the Managing Director in July 2007.

According to Al-Kuwari, the ultimate aim of HMC is to develop a healthy population and WCMCQ is part of the equation in making that happen through its partnership with HMC.  She says, “We are working together to introduce technologies in evidence-based medicine that will improve the quality of health of the population. We are working collaboratively on four research areas with WCMC-Q which are cancer care, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic disorders and the forth is neurosciences. These are the four main concerns of our population.  We have a high incidence of diabetes in our population for multiple reasons and a high incidence of road traffic accidents, which result in a large number of brain injuries.”
Al- Kuwari points out that the strong collaboration between WCMC-Q and Hamad started with the purpose of ensuring that the medical students who graduate out of Cornell have an environment that will continue to foster high quality education for them. “It is also fostered around the fact that, as the health care provider, we seek to develop a sustainable high quality medical workforce. The presence of WCMC-Q is a key factor in developing a high caliber medical cadre.

“Over the summer we launched an initiative to transform Hamad and its partners into an academic health system. WCMC-Q is our main partner in that initiative and plays an important role in achieving the objective that we, as an academic partnership, have in realizing the national priorities set out by the Supreme Council of Health.” She said.

With her passion for transforming health care and introducing innovative change transformation initiatives Al- Kuwari is ideal for overseeing the project. This newest initiative is one of many she has introduced over the years. Al Kuwari previously established a center for healthcare improvement, dedicated to continuously innovating and driving business process re-engineering across Hamad.. Through these changes and initiatives Hamad has now become a learning organization that recognizes and rewards innovation and high performance.

During 2010 a total of 125 students from first to forth year received their clinical training at Hamad. Al-Kuwari says that the vision is to become a true academic healthcare system that supports the pursuit of new discoveries through research that can be put to practical application and improve patient outcomes. Students at WCMC-Q are exposed to patients and clinical training from day one. This year first year medical students got an opportunity to learn about emergency medicine and treating trauma patients at HMC. Furthermore, students do their internships and residencies alongside some of the best trained medical professionals in the region at HMC.

Al- Kuwari believes that the future of medical care in Qatar is bright. She says, “All those who enter medicine are individuals who have a giving nature and a passion for improving people’s lives. These are qualities of future leaders, in that sense those who enter medicine in Qatar have a very promising career and the potential of enjoying a rewarding career path in every sense, spiritually, financially and socially. The health care system is growing in Doha and there will be a lot of important clinical leadership roles that the new generation coming on board will be filling, therefore we can be confident of attracting young people into a career in medicine in Qatar.

 “The role that WCMC-Q plays in that is vital, because it is developing our future medical capacity and our future medical talent and we are very proud of the graduates of Cornell. They have proved themselves to be very hardworking and very diligent. They are dedicated and they are more than 100 percent committed to the work. It is a pleasure and a joy to see such caliber of young future talent. A lot of them have been placed in the best institutions as part of their residency and we look forward to them coming back to Doha and playing a significant role in our healthcare industry as a whole.”

Al- Kuwari goes on to say, “There is now enough evidence to show that health care systems that focus equally on care, education and research are safer and provide better health care for the population. That is the motivation behind developing the academic healthcare partnership that we are working very closely with Cornell on, in a cycle of education and research, because if we deliver that, we will be providing the population with high quality medical care. Our ambition is to be the leading healthcare provider and system in the region.”

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