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Muscat: Dr Hilal Ali al Sabti, Minister of Health, has said that the Ministry is embarked on a number of projects and initiatives to meet demand in accordance with current and future priorities.

The ministry pledged to continue providing a high standard of healthcare and develop a world-class health system.

This was unveiled by Dr Hilal Ali al Habsi before the 13th ordinary session of the Shura Council, held on Sunday to discuss the statement of the Ministry of Health.

The statement covered four themes: comprehensive health coverage, funding the health system, human resources and digital transition.

The minister pointed out that the projects seek to consolidate the decentralization of health services by providing a package of specialized services in referral hospitals. To meet this objective, about 240 new specialized services have been introduced in hospitals and health complexes, he said.

The new projects include the establishment and replacement of 13 hospitals with a capacity ranging between 50 and 700 beds. This raises the number of hospitals affiliated to the Ministry of Health to 64, said Dr Hilal, noting that 18 primary healthcare institutions have been set up or developed to meet population growth.

The ministry is currently expanding five hospital (adding 600 additional beds) and upgrading the level of three health centres into local hospitals, he said. This is in addition to the establishment and expansion of eight emergency units and construction of nine dialysis units, he added.

The minister explained that the projects being implemented include the setting up of a central laboratory, a regional warehouse in Musandam Governorate, two centres for recovery from addiction in the governorates of Muscat and North Al Batinah and a national centre for organ transplantation.

The minister said that the total number of workers at the Ministry of Health by the end of 2021 stood at 37,732. This accounts for a decrease of 2.2%, he observed, noting that, despite this decrease, the overall percentage of Omanization remained at 73% in 2021.

Citing other facts, the minister said that the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19 pandemic) prolonged patient waiting lists and postponed outpatient appointments and surgical interventions. This, he said, prompted the ministry to undertake contingency measures to address the problems and to reduce pressures. The measures yielded positive results, he added.

Speaking about funding issues, Dr Hilal stressed that the Ministry augmented the budget set for the strategic stock of medicines and medical supplies to RO 10 million. The aim is to ensure that enough supplies are in place to meet emergency conditions, stave off the effects of epidemics and disasters and, eventually, protect the health of citizens, he said.

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The ministry maintains a reserve stock of vital and life-saving items that covers consumption over a period of three to six months, he added.

In his statement the minister said that, by the end of last year, Oman had a suitable number of projects that support the pharmaceutical and medical sectors. Those included 14 factories, seven of which for medical drugs and 7 for medical supplies, others factories, he said. He added that nine more factories are under construction, of them 7 for pharmaceutical products and 2 for medical supplies.

The Ministry of Health is also implementing a National Strategy for Digital Transition, said the minister. He indicated that the strategy is being conducted through the automation, digitization and computerization of its digital systems.

Speaking in detail, the minister said that digital transformation projects include the establishment of a National Centre for Virtual Medical Services and an Electronic Repository for Digital X-rays and Diagnostic Procedures.

This is in addition to a project for medical prescriptions and drug tracking and another for re-engineering and designing a healing system, he said.

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