Take all precautions when you travel abroad from Oman for treatment

Oman Saturday 08/January/2022 23:00 PM
By: Times News Service

Muscat: Availability of treatment, reputed medical facilities overseas, and adequate information about the country to which they are flying, are a few of the factors patients in Oman need to take into account, when they plan to travel overseas for medical treatment.

The Ministry of Health, keen on educating people in the country on the need to travel overseas for treatment, added that another key factor for such patients is whether they are able to do so, given their medical condition at the time.

“Firstly, the decision of travelling abroad for treatment must be taken upon the recommendations of the treating physician in Oman,” said Dr Sultan Al Harthy, the director for treatment abroad at the Ministry of Health. “Moreover, patients should scrutinise the availability of the appropriate treatment and treatment plans at the intended destination with prior coordination.

“Travelling to unreliable health facilities that do not provide the patient with adequate information, in terms of the nature, quality, and cost of treatment, exposes patients to the risk of relapse, which confines them to a prolonged stay in an ICU or hospital, thus imposing on them unexpected financial costs. Furthermore, the prevalence of diseases, or an unstable security situation, makes some countries unsafe for travel.”

Providing treatment abroad at the expense of the government is one of the main pillars of Oman’s healthcare system for citizens, and it serves as a last resort for some in critical condition.

The role of Al Harthy’s department is to provide treatment options abroad at ministry expense for eligible patients, if these services are not available in governmental and private health institutions in Oman.

A list has been prepared to define criteria under key criteria of sending patients abroad for treatment. The Ministry of Health has additionally outlined conditions and procedures for the service.

As for those travelling on their own expenses, it is important that they select reliable and certified health centres and physicians, in addition to consulting the ministry in advance in this regard, to avoid any health issues or serious medical complications.

“Please keep in mind that travelling overseas for treatment must not worsen the patient’s health,” explained Al Harthy. “The ministry is striving to provide health and well-being for all citizens at all levels of care.”

There are currently many challenges that the department concerned with overseas treatment is facing, he added.

“There is difficulty in providing the required equipment when we receive returning patients who experienced deterioration of their health during travel,” he admitted.

“Challenges are also present when it comes to providing medical staff, supportive medical devices, and air transport, not to mention that in many cases require prior coordination is required with a number of authorities, including embassies, Muscat International Airport, Oman Air, the Ministry of Defence, and the concerned in-country health institutions, along with other relevant parties.”

To provide patients who need to travel overseas better forms of treatment, the department regularly searches for accredited forms of care at reputed medical centres in other countries.

The department then evaluates those facilities and studies the possibility of sending patients there, or aims to draw up a cooperation agreement between the treating physician in Oman and the healthcare provider abroad.

“The department also hosts senior doctors and specialised consultants to treat some people in Oman,” added Al Harthy.

“Aside from enhancing existing health services and providing more options for citizens, this also helps in training medical staff in the country and adds to their knowledge. Each patient who requires treatment is looked at differently, on the basis of the care they require.”