Muscat: Oman’s health sector has come a long way from having a life expectancy of 50 years in the 70s to over 76 years presently, says Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Saidi, Minister of Health.
“In 1970, when His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said became the Sultan of Oman, life expectancy in the country was only 50 years. The mortality rate in pregnant women, infants less than one-year-old and children below five-year-old was one of the highest worldwide,” he said .
About 200 per 1,000 live births of children below five didn’t live to see their fifth birthday,” said Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Saidi.
“Today, our life expectancy has exceeded over 76 years, and the mortality rate in children below five declined to 9.5 per cent from 20 percent in the 70s,” Al Saidi added.
He said the change is not only due to the health services provided over the years but also because of the improvement in lifestyle in general.
The health services in the Sultanate have developed tremendously over the past years. According to the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) annual report 2016, there are now 49 hospitals running by the ministry compared to two hospitals with 12 beds and 10 clinics in early 1970.
“When His Majesty became the ruler and started building Oman, he made education and health priority in addition to the security. So, school and health care facilities started building across the country,” recalled Al Saidi while talking exclusively to the Times of Oman.
“My predecessors worked very hard and established the basic needs and facilities of health care in the country. Their concentration was on primary healthcare which is extremely important.
“My role after becoming the health minister was to continue the work and build on it with my team. And I am proud to say that because of the support of His Majesty and his government to the healthcare, Oman is now used as an example showcasing how healthcare should be established and run,” Al Saidi said.
There are now a total of 5,034 hospital beds, according to the MoH’s annual health report. Also, in its support for primary health care, MoH opened one new Health Centre in Dhofar Governorate. This makes the total number of health centres 206 of which 65 are equipped with beds (a total of 109 beds), and 23 extended health centres in the MoH.
“The present generation needs to realise that this achievement in all sectors didn’t come without the hard work, dedication and supervision from His Majesty. He dedicated his life to serve the country and to build it. It is now the responsibility of each and every one of us in the country – Omani and non-Omani – to keep this legacy, maintain the achievements and build on them,” Al Saidi said.
He added that there is a lot more to be done in the health sector with the support of everyone, and that people should change their life styles and be healthy.
“Health care sector should also keep up to date about what is new in the field and how to provide good health services to the people in Oman as that’s what everyone deserves,” Al Saidi concluded.