Chronic health problems such as diabetes and hypertension have played a crucial role in amplifying the effects of Covid-19 and causing fatalities among the people of Oman.
The pandemic has posed a greater challenge to health systems in the Sultanate and other countries around the world, according to the annual health report of the Ministry of Health.
The health infrastructure, said the report, along with all other state agencies, has confronted this challenge with efficiency and competency, relying on the strong foundation that was built over the years. The report hailed the role of medics and support staff who adopted international standards and embraced best practices to fight against the pandemic.
The annual health report shows an increase in the expenditures of the Ministry of Health compared to the previous three years (2017-2019). The report indicated that the total recurrent expenditures in the ministry amounted to approximately RO 972.5 million during 2020 compared to approximately RO 793.3 million in 2019, reflecting an increase of 22.6 per cent. In contrast, development expenditures decreased from RO 21.6 million in 2019 to RO 15.7 million in 2020.
There was a decrease in the use of health services in 2020 mainly due to the impact of pandemic.
The average number of visits per person to outpatient clinics reached 3.7 during 2020, which led to a decrease in the total number of discharged patients from the ministry's health institutions to reach about 25,7000 in 2020, with an average period of hospitalisation 3.7 days of stay and 47.8 per cent of bed occupancy rate.
“The number of outpatient clinic visits to ministry's institutions in 2020 dropped to 10.5 million compared to about 15.7 million in 2019,” the report said.
It also stated that the mortality rate among children under five years of age fell to 9.3 per 1,000 live births in 2020 compared to 10.2 per 1,000 live births in 2019. The infant mortality rate (less than one year) per 1,000 live births decreased from 8.0 to 7.6 for the same period.
According to the report, the Sultanate recorded zero cases of measles in 2020 and it remained free of polio since 1993, and diphtheria and neonatal tetanus since 1991. The incidence rates of other communicable diseases have fallen. For instance, the number of malaria cases dropped to 276 cases in 2020 compared to 1,338 cases in 2019.
The report showed that the total number of workers in the Ministry of Health reached 38,566 by the end of December 2020, with an Omanisation rate of 73 per cent. “Omanisation rate in doctors category reached 39 per cent, dentists and pharmacists 95 per cent, nurses 66 per cent, other paramedical jobs 85 per cent.”
The total number of health centers and polyclinics operated by the Ministry reached 211, including (54) health centers with a capacity of (84) beds, and (21) polyclinics, in addition to (51) hospitals comprising (5,262) beds by the end of 2020. Many services were also added to these institutions in order to improve the quality of health services provided at all levels. A field hospital for Covid-19 cases was designated, equipped with 202 beds.
Many services were also added to these institutions to improve the quality of health provided at all levels. A field hospital with 202 beds for Covid-19 cases was set up to accommodate more patients and ease the burden of the medical institutions.
The report also showed the various surgical operations that were performed at the theatre rooms of health institutions, where the total number of surgeries reached about 52,000 surgeries in 2020, at a rate of 11.4 surgery per 1,000 population. The report includes further plenty of statistics on health services use such as admissions, radiology, and dialysis services, and others.
The Directorate General of Planning and Studies is the central body responsible for providing reliable and accurate information, as well as data for each planning, monitoring and evaluation processes in a timely manner thus contributing in the proper planning and decision-making procedures. Information are made available to all health workers in the various departments and sections.
Moreover, the Department of Information and Statistics is providing the Sultanate’s health indicators to the international organisations and bodies including World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), in addition to the academic and research centres.