• 7/3/2022

    Doha, 3 July 2022: The National Alzheimer’s and Memory Services helpline, called RAHA, celebrates its second anniversary in May this year. The Service has developed over the past two years into an invaluable resource for families caring for someone who has memory loss or cognitive decline as a result of a major illness or Alzheimer’s disease. The RAHA helpline was launched in May 2020 as part of a strategic commitment to improving the care of people with memory loss that may or may not be related to Alzheimer’s disease. 

    Dr. Hanadi Al Hamad, National Lead for Healthy Ageing for the Qatar Ministry of Public Health (National Health Strategy 2018 – 2022) and Chairperson of the Department of Geriatrics and Long-Term Care at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) explained the need for this service: “Memory loss and dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia, can be hugely challenging for the individual experiencing associated symptoms and their carers, who are often family members. 

    Dr. Al Hamad explained that the name ‘RAHA’ was chosen as it means “comfort” in Arabic. “Access to knowledgeable, professional and compassionate care is extremely important for families. The RAHA service has been a real lifeline for many people, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. From the time the helpline was established until now, the team has managed over 5000 telephone interactions with patients and caregivers,” added Dr Al Hamad.

    Dr. Al Hamad is also the Focal Lead for Global Dementia Observatory explained that the helpline was one of the strategic outcomes of the National Dementia Plan (QNDP) in 2018:
    “The Qatar National Dementia Plan’s vision is ‘To deliver dementia care and support for individuals, their carers and families to enable them to live with dignity, respect, autonomy and equality’, and one important way for us to achieve this was the establishment of a confidential helpline that is staffed by compassionate and knowledgeable healthcare professionals. Qatar is the first Arab country to have a National Dementia Plan and the implementation of this initiative reinforces Qatar’s commitment to providing best practice Dementia care.”

    The helpline was set up by the Geriatric and Long-Term Care Department at HMC, under the guidance of Dr. Al Hamad, who is also the Medical Director of Rumailah Hospital and the Qatar Rehabilitation Institute at HMC. “Our healthcare professionals are on hand to provide telephone-based support to help people understand the possible symptoms they may be experiencing and arrange for a professional assessment. Once diagnosed, patients and their carers can call the helpline to get help in managing the impact of the condition. “ 

    “RAHA provides confidential service to people above the age of 60 years, who have concerns about their memory and also to the families or carers who have concerns about a family member experiencing memory problems. RAHA also provides support to people with an established diagnosis of dementia and their carers. We want to reassure them that they are not alone in this journey; ” said Dr. Pravija Manikoth, Consultant Geriatric Psychiatrist at HMC.

    “A multidisciplinary team including geriatricians, geriatric psychiatrists, psychologists, and specialized nurses with multi-lingual skills are assigned to support callers who contact the helpline. They listen to the caller and direct them to appropriate services or provide guidance to help them overcome challenges they might face related to this condition,” added Dr. Manikoth.

    The helpline’s secondary objective is to promote public awareness about memory loss and dementia and related services. This confidential helpline is available on 40262222 between 8 am and 3 pm from Sunday to Thursday.

    The RAHA team organized a celebration with staff and caregivers to mark the second anniversary of the successful helpline. 

    Alzheimer’s and related dementias describe a set of symptoms that may include disturbance in memory, thinking, orientation, and ability to comprehend information and can also affect a person’s language and judgment. Additionally, there can be changes seen in the behavior of the individual. These symptoms can become severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.