Muscat: His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said is a unique leader who has managed to put his vision and thoughts together and taken our nation to great heights, according to a professor at the Sultan Qaboos University Hospital (SQUH).
“His Majesty has an excellent vision; he can see much farther than any of us ordinary people,” said Neela Al Lamki, a professor of radiology at the prestigious university. He has managed to put his vision and thoughts together, unlike so many other people. He is a unique leader and we as Omanis are very lucky to have him lead us.”
“As he is a very peaceful man, he has brought our beloved country so far ahead and led the nation to such great heights,” she added.
Al Lamki, who is also the Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Oman Medical Specialty Board (OMSB), recalled the time she heard the news that Sultan Qaboos was to become the ruler of Oman.
“In 1970, on Renaissance Day, my husband and I were in Canada, and we heard the news from my husband’s brother, who was working as an ambassador in Egypt,” she recounted.
“He was one of the first people to tell us the news, and then of course, it was on the news around the world. We also heard from the news that His Majesty said all people of Omani origin are welcome to come back to Oman.”
“I had finished my post-graduate training at that time and was working as a consultant at the University of Toronto,” recalled Al Lamki.
“When we heard the news, we were extremely happy to learn that HM had opened the door for all Omanis. Many members of our family were scattered in different Gulf countries, as well as other Arab countries such as Egypt, among others. They all were very happy to hear the news, and they started moving back to Oman from 1970 onwards.”
Al Lamki added that she and her husband were still working and trying to gain experience in Canada at the time. They later moved to the United States of America in the early 80s.
“We felt that if we could get more experience in post-graduate medical education, we could be of more use to our patients in Oman,” she said. “We could also help develop healthcare in Oman, as well as the education of physicians and physicians’ specialisation.”
“In the USA, I became the Programme Director for Radiology at Baylor College of Medicine, which is what I continued to do in Oman when I returned in 2004,” added Al Lamki.
“Sultan Qaboos University Hospital needed people with experience so I came in as a consultant and was given the position of Deputy Head of the Radiology and Molecular Imaging Department at the hospital. My husband, Prof. Lamk Al Lamki, and I started a residency programme in radiology, which did not exist in Oman at that time. We received help from the dean and other radiologists in this journey, and we were later on joined by OMSB.”
Reminiscing about her journey and the development of the radiology programme in Oman, Al Lamki said they received approval to start a new programme from the OMSB, which at that time was under SQU. A year later, when the current OMSB was established, the radiology programme was moved there and has been extremely successful to date, according to Al Lamki.
“We now have 18 residency programmes in different specialties of medicine, and we are also going to have fellowship programmes, which will feature further training in different sub-specialisations,” she said.
Al Lamki also expressed pride in the OMSB’s role in building capacity, saying the Board sends young doctors for residency and fellowship subspecialty training abroad and provides some 50 scholarships yearly.
“Some 700 physicians, who are now consultants and specialists in different fields, have graduated from the OMSB between 2006 and the present, and are now working in the country to improve our healthcare,” she explained. “Also, the Board is training between 550 and 600 doctors currently in the country, and some 185 are sent abroad.”
“We have a very good retention rate of doctors who went abroad for training – 99 per cent have returned and are already working either as heads of departments or specialists or consultants,” added Al Lamki.
“Luckily, we don’t have the brain drain that other countries face, because Omani physicians have strong ties to their country. This is, to a great extent, a result of HM’s encouragement.”