DOHA: In a move to set new standards in patient care, Qatar is taking steps to increase the age limit for children entitled for paediatric care from 14 years to 18, according to a senior official of the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
Presently, the age limit for paediatric is from birth to 14 years and adolescents too receive medical care at regular healthcare facilities with adults.
Once the new age limit is implemented children aged 13 years to 18 years will be treated as a special category under paediatric care, said Dr Ahmed Hassan Alhammadi (pictured), Consultant and Head of General Paediatrics Division at HMC.
“The age limit for paediatric treatment will soon be increased in Qatar. Children above 14 years need to be treated with special attention, but currently they are being suddenly shifted to the sections treating adults once they cross this age limit,” said Alhammadi who is also the Associate Programme Director of Paediatrics at HMC.
The age limit for paediatrics ranges from birth up to 18 years in different countries. In some countries it is until completion of secondary education and in the US, until 21 years, he noted. “Many countries are now increasing the age limit for paediatrics. Most developed countries have set the limit as 18 years,” said Alhammadi.
The decision once implemented could put more pressure on the Al Sadd Paediatric Emergency and its few branches across the country. The official said the health authorities were looking into ways to address the issue.
The Al Sadd Emergency alone receives up to 1,700 children daily, on an average. According to HMC statistics over 750 patients are admitted for various treatment at the Hamad General Hospital’s paediatric department, every day.
The Sidra Medical and Research Centre catering to women and children is expected to play a big role to meet an expected increase in the number of children coming under paediatric care. “When Sidra is opened next year, it will be more supportive in treating children and adolescents,” said Alhammadi.
“We are waiting for logistic decisions that should go with the decision increasing the age limit for paediatric treatment,” he added.