MUSCAT, Nov 6 – Childcare initiatives in the Sultanate rank high globally in terms along with education and other basic needs of the children, according to the UNICEF representative to Oman. Oman’s commitment to preserving the rights of children is obvious and its social development efforts are extensive, said Lana al Wreikat, the UNICEF representative. However, there are gaps left to be bridged and UNICEF-Oman is “looking forward to add value by building national capacities and institutional development in social policy”.
Speaking to the Observer, she said Oman has achieved universal coverage of antenatal care and institutional delivery, which is excellent. The State, according to her, is “paying great attention to providing free education to its future generations”.
“Oman has ranked high in providing education for children and the enrolment in secondary education is the greatest in the MENA region at 94 per cent — a huge leap from 2005. This also corresponds to low rates of children dropping out of school compared with the rest of the region.”
She further said the under-five mortality rate stands at 12 per 1,000 live births, which places Oman favourably in the GCC region and exceeds the MDG (Millennium Development Goals) target of 13. Remarkably, this rate has improved by almost two-thirds since the 1990s.
“However, maternal mortality rate is still high, which may be indicative of the level of health awareness among women.”
The UNICEF representative said Oman’s high rank in areas like under-five mortality rate, antenatal care and enrolment in secondary education are key factors to improving the lives of children.
The percentage of women receiving ante-natalcare is approaching 100 per cent, which is impressive, making Oman stand apart from the rest of the region.
“This means almost all women are receiving at least one visit after the birth of a child to ensure adequate maternal and child health, detection of any risks/ complications and to provide support,” she added.
She said although Oman has achieved the MDG 1 target of halving underweight prevalence among children under five, wasting is still above the threshold defined as “acceptable” by WHO.