MUSCAT: The average life expectancy in the Sultanate has jumped to 76 years as against 51 years in 1971, according to a research conducted by the National Center for Statistics and Information in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
In the last four decades, the country has made a remarkable progress in the status of children’s and women’s health, the study has found. It said the country has achieved the fourth Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing child mortality.
Ninety-eight per cent of children have received immunisation compared with just 20 per cent in the 1980s.
The progress made on immunisation to reduce the rate of infectious diseases among kids has been remarkable, but the rate of diarrhoea infection continues to pose a problem in some governorates, says the study.
The Sultanate achieved the first target of development goals to reduce prevalence of underweight in newborns by half, which has led to a decline in the rate of stunted growth among children.
Oman has succeeded in controlling iodine deficiency, but there is still a need to achieve a sustained and universal coverage by iodised salt.
The study said the Sultanate has extensive coverage of antenatal and institutional delivery services. Nine out of 10 registered pregnant women receive postnatal care services and all women with live births attended a postnatal clinic at least once after delivery.
Such high coverage by maternal health services has led to a decrease in maternal mortality rate in the Sultanate, which is higher than that of other GCC countries. The WHO/Unicef Joint Monitoring Programme (JMHS) reported that 90 per cent of the population had access to good water sources and sanitation facilities which remained a determinant of child health.
Early childhood development is another area where the Sultanate has made rapid growth, especially in the education sector.
The government has given great thrust to early childhood education services along with private sector. It is notable that some non-profit institutions also have joined this endeavour.
Gender parity in pre-school/early childhood education has increased steadily, but children from low-income families, particularly in rural areas, still need access to adequate early childhood education.
In the past 20 years, the Sultanate has achieved near-universal access to primary education at a steady rate. The development in secondary education is also an impressive one, although higher grades require further improvement to achieve better results. The Sultanate has achieved comprehensive literacy rates among adolescents aged between 15 and 24 years. The narrowing of the gap between the net enrollment rate and the gross enrollment ratio shows the effectiveness of the government’s efforts to enroll students at the right age.
Between 1990 and 2010, the passing percentage of pupils up to sixth grade increased by nearly 35 per cent. The re-sit rate in lower grades declined but shows need for improvement in higher grades.
The Sultanate, as a whole, has achieved gender parity for both primary and secondary education. Overall, the gender parity index increases in favour of girls as children progress from Classes 1 to 12. Girls have a higher promotion rate than boys. — ONA