Muscat: General physicians and dentists looking to practice in Sultanate of Oman need at least three years of experience, according to a decree issued by the Ministry of Health (MoH).
According to the Ministerial Decree No.13/2014, private healthcare doctors and dentists would henceforth need at least three years of experience to obtain a licence to work. "However, those passing out from Oman's colleges are exempt from this rule," the decree issued by the Minister of Health, Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Saidi, said.
This decree was issued to amend Section 3 of the Article of the previous Ministerial Decision Number 54/98.
Health department officials say the changes are an important step towards improving the healthcare system, and encouraging more Omanis to work in the health sector. "It is our hope that these updates will help in filling the gaps in the healthcare sector," a senior official of the Health Ministry said.
Speaking to Times of Oman, K.P. Raman, director and chairman of Al Hayat Polyclinic, said the ministry has started enforcing these laws to safeguard the interests of the residents. "We always hire doctors who have enough experience since we believe that health comes first," he said.
Welcoming the change, he also said that private healthcare hospitals will not able to apply for the visa if the doctor does not have three years of working experience. "Besides, the Ministry of Health will also not allow the doctors to sit for written examination," he added.
The decree was issued on February 2, 2014 and came into effect immediately. "This decree supersedes the earlier decree which was there since 1998," it said.
The health services in Oman have developed tremendously over the past years. During early 1970's, there were only two hospitals with 12 beds and 10 clinics and by 2013, the Ministry of Health (MoH) is running more than 50 hospitals.
Oman's Health's Vision-2050 aims at setting up 10,000 health centres to meet the increasing demand of its growing population and expanding urbanisation. "The Omani population is expected to double by 2050 and this, in turn, entails the doubling of health services," a senior health official said.
This decree comes when Oman is likely to face a shortage of nearly 8,900 specialised doctors and nurses by 2015, the Minister of Health had said at a meeting hosted by Majlis Al Shura, recently.
Statistics of the Ministry of Health show that the estimated number of doctors that the Ministry of Health will need in 2015 is 4,464, but Oman can provide only 1,176 doctors.
The ministry would need to cover the shortage by bringing in doctors from outside the country.
"We have to make sure that they are experienced in handling patients," a senior health department official said.
The Vision-2050 was framed after evaluating the health services in Oman, reviewing the achievements of the past years, addressing the current challenges encountered and seeking solutions, with a view to providing high quality healthcare to the country. According to the annual health report 2012, there are 11 private hospitals, 432 general clinics, 265 specialised clinics and polyclinics, 206 dental clinics and 62 Chinese and Indian clinics in Oman.
The number of private pharmacies stood at 476 in 2012.
In 2012, the manpower in the private sector stood at 7,781, of which 605 are specialised doctors, 974 general practitioners, 511 dentists, 1,201 pharmacists, 2,229 nurses and 403 lab technicians.