Oman makes quantum leap in health sector

Ali Al Matani – –

As we celebrate the 47th National Day, health sector in the Sultanate has experienced a quantum leap by establishing three new hospitals in Salalah and other cities, boosting the integrated health system in the country.
It brings to citizens and residents services of all sorts, and added more than 1,000 additional beds. This development is a National Day gift for the people who would surely be comforted by the fact that such vital services would be available for them for free.
The signing of the agreement, valued at over hundreds of millions of rials, during such dismal economic conditions in the Sultanate, reflects the government’s special care for the health sector and not being affected by the financial crisis.
After completion of the hospitals in three different cities, other areas in the Sultanate will have more such medical facilities. The development of hospitals is in tune with the population growth and will continue to provide citizens and residents with the best services.
The new hospitals have added to 74 hospitals until 2016, 266 health centres and 1,045 private clinics. This is a big number if you were to compare it with the population, which is around 4.5 million.
The development of health services in the Sultanate was reflected in the health indicators compared with global health indicators, in many aspects. For instance, the fertility rate in the Sultanate is 4, while internationally it is 2.5. The percentage of childbirth under medical supervision is 99.7 per cent in the Sultanate, compared with 74 per cent globally.
Of course, the health sector is facing many challenges, like any other sector.
The government is working to provide for the needs of all sectors through efforts exerted by the different stakeholders in the health sector, including Oman Centre for Medical Specialities, which plays a key role in qualifying doctors despite the high cost of the process due to the expensive equipment.
The health indicators of 2016 will clearly establish the efforts exerted by the Sultanate. According to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), hospitals and health centres in the Sultanate conducted 111,313 surgeries in 2016. Of these 50,883 were major operations. The Khoula Hospital performed the highest number of major surgeries at 8,644. It accounted for 17 per cent of such operations carried out in the country.
Minimal operations conducted in the health centres stood at 12,798 accounting for 21.2 per cent of the minor operations. The Health Statistics Bulletin issued by the NCSI also shows that outpatient clinics in the Ministry of Health recorded 15,616,509 visits, which included 14,801,984 Omanis (an average of 6.1 visits per person per year) and 814,525 expatriate patients (an average of 0.4 visits).
The bulletin also revealed that outpatient clinics in the private sector recorded 4,014,725 visits, including 2,051,481 visits by Omanis (with an average of 0.8 visits per person during the year), while 1,962,776 visits were by expatriates (an average of one visit per person).
A total of 5,444 doctors are working in the 244 healthcare institutions.
Of these, 1,159 (more than 60 per cent) are women. Also, 1,061 (30 per cent) of the 3,523 expatriate doctors are women. The Governorate of Muscat has the maximum number of healthcare institutions affiliated to the Ministry of Health with six hospitals and 31 health and medical centres.
Dhofar has seven hospitals, 29 health and medical centres, North Sharqiyah has five hospitals and 24 health centres, and Al Dakhiliyah Governorate has six hospitals and 23 health centres. The efforts to integrate the health sector in the Sultanate require much to be done and hopefully in the not too distant future the health facilities will bring the country on a par with the healthcare system in the Western world.