Efforts by the government to make Oman a healthcare delivery destination are receiving a big push with the formation of a new partnership in this regard.
The ministries of health and tourism are joining hands in a big way along with other stakeholders to achieve greater results and increase medical tourism business in the country, said a top official.
“A meeting of representatives from both ministries, aviation and heads of tourism from select countries will be held in a few days to chalk out a mechanism to fulfil Oman’s potential and compete for a bigger share of the multibillion dollar industry,” said Dr Waleed bin Khalid al Zadjali, President of Oman Medical Association.
In an exclusive interview to the Observer, he said that to get more impetus, Oman needs to have more investments and infrastructure to expand access to healthcare and consumer experience.
“For this purpose, the government and its agencies are in talks with their counterparts in other countries, including India, to share their experience and seek investments in Oman,” he said.
The meeting will discuss all aspects of medical tourism, including laws and legislation, that limit and impede investments and providing facilities like insurance coverage, visas, etc, he said. Oman ranks 35th and seventh and fifth among Arab nations in the global medical tourism index for medical tourism and quality of services and facilities.
The number of visitors coming to the Sultanate is increasing year after year.
The government is rehabilitating its historic venues and developing better infrastructure around them to increase its appeal.
Inbound medical tourism to Oman is set to enjoy a surge in popularity with the planned medical cities in Barka and Salalah, he said.
“More efforts are required to boost the quality and facilities in hospitals to get international accreditations at par with other countries that are jostling to offer high quality healthcare at a good price,” he said.
According to Dr Waleed, the government has already identified and shortlisted some of the hospitals for the purpose of developing medical tourism.
In this regard, Oman Medical Association plays a major role in recommending the facilities required, he said. The world population is ageing at rates that surpass the availability of quality healthcare resources.
Patients are struggling to afford or find the right treatment at home.
As a result, they head overseas for treatment.
Reasons other than cost to travel abroad for healthcare include better treatment as well as avoiding long waiting lists and dodging questions from colleagues and family.
In recent years, Oman has been in the limelight for rapid development in healthcare services and facilities to meet the sector’s growing demand.
International players in the medical and healthcare industry are focusing their efforts to exploit the lucrative Omani healthcare market.
Under the government’s Health Vision 2050, much more is being done, including establishment of 10,000 health centres, to meet increasing demand arising from the country’s growing population and the expanded geographical dimensions of Oman.