Muscat: Infant and child mortality has plummeted in Oman, new figures show as the Minister for Health gives a key address on the state of Oman's health.
In a wide-ranging interview, Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Sa'eedi, Minister of Health, reiterated the commitment of his ministry to provide a better standard of health care for Oman.
Stressing that Oman today is one of the most developed countries as far as health services extended to children are concerned, Dr Al Sa'eedi said, "In 1970, almost 118 children out of 1,000 died before they completed their first year. This number decreased to 45 children in 1985 and it was 9.5 in 2012."
He added that in 1970 almost 181 children out of 1,000 children died before they completed their fifth year. "The number decreased to 52 children in 1985 and it is
11.5 children in 2012," Dr Al Sa'eedi said.
The minister said "strategic planning" during seventh 'Five-Year Plan' helped meet the modern day health challenges. Under the eighth Five-Year Plan, the Ministry of Health will continue to meet the health needs and expectations of the community.
Dr Al Sa'eedi said that the number of hospitals in the Sultanate stood at 65 in 2012, of which 49 hospitals were affiliated to the ministry. "There are 5,965 beds in these hospitals," he said.
While the number of patients visiting the outpatient clinics at these health institutions stood at 13.3 million in 2012, the number of cases treated at the in-patient divisions of the hospitals reached 293,000 cases during the same year. "The ministry hospitals performed 90,000 surgeries during the same year," he added.
The minister explained that the increase in the number of patients attending the outpatient clinics and those admitted to hospitals has led to the increase in offering laboratory, X-Ray and dental services. Reiterating that the private health sector is witnessing a rapid growth, the minister said, "There were 11 private hospitals, 432 general clinics, 265 specialised clinics and health complexes, 206 dental clinics, 62 other clinics (Ayurvedic, Chinese) and 476 pharmacies in 2012."
Talking about the private sector's investment in the health services, the minister said that the ministry had taken an initiative in 1990 to encourage investment in this sector. "So as per the estimates of the World Bank and WHO (in 2006), the private sector spends OMR57.6 million on health services. This represents 17.7 per cent of the total expenditure of the Sultanate on health," he said.
The number of health services in which the private sector has invested increased from 334 in 1990 to 975 in 2012, and 43.8 per cent of such institutions are located in Muscat Governorate, followed by Al Batinah at 16 per cent.
57% doctors work in Muscat Governorate
In 2012, these institutions received 4,367,563 patients at a rate of 11,933 visits per day. As of December 2012, around 1,588 doctors were working at these private sector institutions, representing 22.5 per cent of the total physicians in the Sultanate.
"While 57 per cent physicians work in the Muscat Governorate, 12.8 per cent work in the North Al Batinah," the minister added.
The total number of health workers in such institutions stand at 7,781, representing 18.2 per cent of the total manpower in the health field in the Sultanate.
The minister explained that the draft of the Health Vision 2050, which addresses the current challenges in order to ensure high-quality health care in Oman in the future, is approved by the Council of Ministers.
Health Vision 2050 which comprises the main document, the Health Atlas, 24 strategic studies and 11 documentary studies covers all aspects of the health domain and programmes.
"The main document deals with the long term vision for the health sector that is planned. The documentary studies have recorded the march of health development that the country has witnessed since 1970," Dr Al Sa'eedi said.
The minister concluded that conscious efforts are being made to ensure that state-of-the-art health care facilities are made available and ably manned by competent staff to serve the population. On the recent health projects, the minister said that the five-year development plans of the ministry have focused among other aspects on the control of non-epidemics as one of the top priorities. About the National Heart Centre at the Royal Hospital, the minister said it includes dedicated facilities for heart patients. On the Medical Liability Act, the minister said that the final draft of the Medical Liability Act has been completed.