The people of Oman are fortunate to be blessed in many ways: a rich heritage, wise and stable leadership, good governance, peace in the region, reasonable resources, and a high standard of living. From a relatively backward and under-developed country in the 1970s, Oman has come a long way during the reign of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. Remarkable progress has been made with regard to basic amenities, education, health and quality of life. The Sultanate is now striving to maintain the pace of this progress, and simultaneously achieve self-reliance, so that the country will continue to flourish in the decades to come.
In the health sector, much has been achieved during the last three and a half decades. Many communicable diseases have been eradicated, while others are being contained. The Ministry has also been focusing on control of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, cancer and genetic disorders. Maternal and child health services are of a good standard and have resulted in decline in the infant mortality rate from 118 per 1000 live births in 1970 to 9 currently. The number of hospital beds has risen from 12 in 1970 to 5439 at present. With 212 government health centers and 766 private clinics spread across the country, and with excellent community health care programs in place, primary health care is now available to all citizens close to their place of residence.
Besides the wilayat and local hospitals, there is a modern secondary-care hospital in each of the 9 regions of the country. This network of health centers and hospitals, coupled with a well-organized referral system, has ensured effective health care services for the people of the Sultanate. All these health sector initiatives, along with better sanitation, drinking water and all round development, have resulted in a marked decline in the crude death rate and in increase in life expectancy from 49 years in 1970 to 71.6 presently.
What is significant is that these achievements have been brought about with due emphasis on efficiency and economy. This is borne out by the World Health Organization, which, in a study covering 191 countries in the year 2000, ranked the Sultanate of Oman as the first in the world for its highly efficient health system, and for effective and competent utilization of the available financial resources in health services. Oman was also rated eighth for providing the most comprehensive health care at the world level.
While developing the health care infrastructure in the remote parts of the country, the Ministry of Health has also given special attention to the capital area hospitals. The Royal, Khoula, Al Nahdha and Ibn Sina Hospitals provide secondary care inpatient services to the population that resides in the capital, and also function as tertiary care referral hospitals for the country as a whole. With the superior technology and high quality of care assured by these hospitals, Oman has largely achieved self-sufficiency with respect to health care. No longer are Omanis compelled to go abroad for treatment, except for a few very complex conditions.
Right from the time it was conceived as a model hospital, the Royal Hospital has been given special consideration by the Ministry. No effort has been spared in providing it with the best of infrastructure, adequate and well-qualified manpower, state-of-art equipment and sufficient finances. The Royal Hospital is the Ministry’s flagship and so I hope that it will always live up to the expectations that we have of it in terms of functioning as a center of excellence.
H.E. Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Obeid Al Sa’eedi
Minister of Health, Sultanate of Oman