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Leading the way: Oman's dedication to healthcare investments and economic growth

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I recently had the opportunity to visit the Sultan Qaboos Comprehensive Cancer Care and Research Centre (SQCCCRC) to accompany a close family member for treatment. From the moment I stepped inside the facility, I was amazed by the world-class facilities, quality of care, and the doctors' expertise. The center was on par with any top cancer research center in the world. I was impressed with how Oman has invested in ensuring its citizens have access to the best healthcare facilities in Oman, without the need to travel abroad. This experience highlighted the importance of investing in healthcare infrastructure and its potential to lead to economic growth and prosperity for Oman.

Several countries have already demonstrated the positive impact of investing in healthcare. Japan has a highly developed healthcare infrastructure that has contributed to its rapid economic growth and prosperity. Singapore has invested heavily in healthcare, and as a result, its healthcare sector has become a major contributor to the country's economy, with an annual growth rate of 10%. In South Korea, healthcare has become a major export industry, with its medical tourism industry alone generating $1 billion in revenue annually. These success stories highlight the effective strategy of investing in healthcare for boosting economic growth.

Oman has made significant progress in its healthcare sector since 1970, with the government's strong presence in the sector making advanced health solutions and patient care services available to all. Oman encourages private healthcare providers to contribute to transforming Oman into a regional healthcare hub. Several public private partnerships have led to the development of several hospitals, clinics, and health research centers. According to a report by HSBC, the MENA healthcare market is projected to grow at 11.7 percent to $243.6 billion in 2023. Oman's healthcare spending in 2022 was approximately RO 2 billion, with over 70,000 employees in the healthcare sector.

There are several advantages to investing in healthcare infrastructure for Oman's economy. One of the benefits is increased productivity, as a healthy workforce is more efficient. Another advantage is the reduction of the economic burden of non-communicable diseases on government spending. Additionally, investing in healthcare infrastructure can create job opportunities for the Omani workforce. Finally, it can also attract medical tourism, which brings in foreign exchange and contributes to the country's economic growth.

According to a report by the world’s highest-impact medical journal The Lancet, investment in health can lead to economic growth, not only through increased labor productivity but also by freeing up household resources for consumption and savings, and by reducing the burden of disease on government spending. The WHO stated that Health investments can generate both direct and indirect economic benefits, including increased productivity, reduced healthcare costs, and increased foreign investment. The IMF has also emphasized the importance of investment in healthcare, stating that healthier populations are more productive, and health investments can improve productivity and stimulate economic growth. A report by the Harvard Business Review found that countries that invest in healthcare infrastructure and services have experienced significant economic growth, as a result of increased productivity and reduced healthcare costs.

The government's significant investments in the healthcare sector have led to admirable growth in the last few decades. The focus on public-private partnerships and job creation in the healthcare sector will continue to boost Oman's economy. By allocating a significant portion of the general budget to healthcare, Oman is sending a strong message about the importance of this sector. The government's focus on healthcare infrastructure will undoubtedly lead to increased productivity, reduced healthcare costs, and a healthier population, positioning Oman as a leader in the region. The government's efforts in investing in healthcare are truly praiseworthy, and it is heartening to see such dedication to the well-being of the people and the country's future prosperity.

[The writer is a long-time Oman resident and is currently in his Doctoral program researching the Impact of Oman's Strategy on Economic Diversification]

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