Persian Gulf States Table of Contents

Before oil was discovered, health care consisted of traditional medicine: barbers performed circumcisions and other minor procedures, and herbalists dispensed natural remedies. A one-doctor "hospital" opened in Doha in 1945. In 1951 Shaykh Ali ibn Abd Allah agreed to a British doctor and a small staff. The first state hospital, Rumailah Hospital, opened in 1959 with 170 beds. A 165-bed maternity hospital was established in 1965. The health budget was abused by Shaykh Ahmad ibn Ali's son and minister of health, Abd al Aziz ibn Ahmad Al Thani. He apparently sent thousands of Ahmad ibn Ali's supporters abroad for luxurious and, in many cases, unnecessary health care in the 1960s.

The development of social services, including health care, accelerated after the accession in 1972 of Shaykh Khalifa ibn Hamad, who dramatically altered the allocation of oil revenues. This included transferring the ruler's 25 percent of oil revenues to the state budget. But the health budget suffered because of the downturns in oil revenues. In 1986, for example, there were cuts of 10 percent in clinic staff.

There are three hospitals in Doha, with a total of about 1,100 beds. Hamad General Hospital, which opened in 1982, has modern facilities for emergency care, cardiovascular surgery, tomography, nuclear medicine, and plastic surgery. Rumailah Hospital, once the only general hospital, has become a center for geriatric, psychiatric, and rehabilitative care. It also has dental and dermatology departments and a burn unit. The Women's Hospital has 314 beds. In addition, dozens of clinics throughout the country ensure accessible primary care to most of the population. For example, 90 percent of births in the late 1980s were attended by a health professional. There are 752 government physicians and many other support staff. In the 1980s, several private clinics also opened in the capital.

Life expectancy at birth in 1986 was 65.2 years for males and 67.6 years for females. The infant mortality rate in 1989 was thirty-one per 1,000 live births. In the 1988-89 period, 81 percent of one- to three-year-olds were immunized. Major causes of death in 1989 were diseases of the circulatory system, injuries and poisonings, tumors, and perinatal conditions.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress