No plan to make health services chargeable for citizens

Right to have healthcare in the Sultanate is guaranteed and ensured for all citizens. This is one of the government’s priorities and there is no plan to make citizens pay for health services.
Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Saeedi, Minister of Health, assured this when he gave a detailed statement during the sixth and seventh regular sessions of the second annual sitting of the Majlis Ash’shura on Sunday.
Regarding health insurance, the minister stated that the issue had been referred to the Council of Ministers, while its implementation assigned to CMA. Starting on a gradual basis with the private sector, “Citizens will not be negatively affected by any financial burdens from health insurance.”
COVID-19
In his statement before the Majlis, the minister praised everyone for their cooperation towards reducing the impacts of the pandemic.
“The number of laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19 has reached more than 99 million cases at the global level, while the number of deaths has reached more than 2 million. A steady increase in cases has recently been observed in many countries, coinciding with the onset of winter.
The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases from the beginning of the pandemic till date is more than 133,044 in the Sultanate, including 10,685 cases which required hospitalisation, 2,650 cases in intensive care units and 1,521 deaths’’, he said.
However, the last updated data indicated a noticeable decline in the number of infections and deaths, as well as in the rate of positive tests for Covid-19 since mid-October 2020.
“Yet, in the light of the continuation of the pandemic at the global level, the possibility of the rise in the number of infections locally is not ruled out’’, Dr Al Saeedi added. On the other hand, he said, the use of non-drug interventions (such as the closure of activities and borders) has become a major challenge for countries and governments. The solutions for the next stage are limited to strengthening societal and institutional preventive measures (such as physical distancing, wearing masks and hand hygiene) to coexist safely with the pandemic until vaccination of target groups is completed in the Sultanate according to the set plan.

VACCINES
Talking about the vaccines, the minister said: “To ensure the Sultanate obtains the required quantities with appropriate conditions in terms of the international quality of the vaccines, the speed of supply and the economic feasibility study, several consultative and negotiation channels have been opened through the Global Alliance for From Page 1
Vaccines (GAV) and direct negotiations with the vaccine manufacturers. On December 28, the national vaccination campaign against COVID-19 was launched where a total of 27,004 people have been immunised till date, with a coverage rate of 99 per cent of the target groups.”
In their successive annual reports, international organisations praised the Sultanate’s health achievements and their effectiveness.
“This international praise is a source of pride for all of us as it reflects the success achieved by the Sultanate in the field of the health sector as part of comprehensive development, as the participation of community members in maintaining their health is necessary to bring about healthy development. Health is one of the advanced priorities in the comprehensive development process,” he added.
The minister also noted that the Sultanate is among the first 40 countries in the world to obtain a Pfizer vaccine from the country of origin, confirming that “we will not import any medicine without ensuring its safety. The Sultanate goes by the health standards and requirements, and the lives of its citizens are very important. The system for managing and classifying vaccinations in the Sultanate ranked first among 127 countries, and this classification is international.”

OMANISATION
Regarding Omanisation rates in the health sector, the minister said the total number of employees in the Ministry of Health by the end of 2019 reached 39,413, with an Omanisation rate of 72 per cent compared to 69 per cent in 2016. The percentage of employees in the medical and paramedical personnel represents 79 per cent of the total in the ministry.
The total number of Omanis who were hired after replacing expatriate workers during the period from 2016 to the end of 2019 stood at 3,050 Omanis, of whom 215 were doctors, 1,671 were nurses, 251 were pharmacists, and 913 were other paramedical categories, according to the statement of the minister.
Omanisation of dentists in primary healthcare institutions has reached 100 per cent, while Omanisation in the pharmacy sector in government institutions has reached 95 per cent.
“As for the private pharmaceutical sector, the number is still not satisfactory. However, we will not dispense with attracting experienced expatriate doctors. We have started implementing work contracts with expatriate doctors since 2014,” Dr Al Saeedi said.
During the session, the minister also indicated that there are four pharmaceutical factories under construction, one in the production stage, and a plan to expand ambulance services among health institutions.
He stressed the importance of enhancing investments in the health sector and localising industries, noting that the ministry seeks to encourage investment in the sector and provide technical support.
In terms of the existing projects, the minister said, “Al Suwaiq Hospital is under construction, and the completion rate of the project has crossed 20 per cent.”
He said: “We are counting on it to relieve pressure on the health sector in the South Al Batinah Governorate.” There is also the expansion of care unit in Jaalan Bani Bu Ali Hospital which will be operated if the capabilities are available. Besides, Shaleem Hospital has been expanded, and it provides maternity and emergency services. It is a fully integrated facility.