By Samuel Kutty — MUSCAT: March 13 – The Sultanate of Oman has been ranked 35th in the global Medical Tourism Index (MTI) for its expanded access to healthcare and consumer experience. It has been placed seventh and fifth among Arab nations for its overall high performance and country environment dimension, respectively. The ranking for its medical tourism industry and the facility and service quality dimensions are both in eighth position in the region. The MTI is a worldwide reference point unveiled by International Healthcare Research Center (IHRC), which considers destination environment, medical tourism and quality of services and facilities for ranking.
“It is Oman’s cost advantage for healthcare over the neighbouring nations that allows the country to better compete, while still having to pay attention to sub-dimensions that will help them achieve greater results and increase medical tourism business,” IHRC said in its 2016 ranking report. According to IHRC, Oman managed to receive more than two million visitors to the country last year, and is working on rehabilitating its historic venues and developing better infrastructure around them to increase its appeal. “The country still needs to work on attracting more visitors as well as working to boost the quality of its hospitals and its international accreditations,” the report points out.
The MTI measures the attractiveness of a country as a medical tourism destination in terms of overall country image and environment; healthcare and tourism attractiveness and infrastructure; and availability and quality of medical facilities and services. “Public healthcare is perceived as being of high quality for a middle income country, which makes the quality of the private sector high and gives them an opportunity to be able to compete in the medical tourism industry for incoming patients,” the report adds. Medical tourism is one alternative that patients pursue typically to get cheaper or more advanced treatments not offered in their home country.
In recent years, Oman has been in the limelight for the 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.