Muscat: The growth in Oman’s healthcare services has been accompanied by a rising Omanisation rate, the Ministry of Health has announced, with homegrown talent replacing expat doctors, pharmacists and other medics.
From 2015 to June 2019, almost 3,000 expatriates were replaced by Omani employees, and the rate of Omanisation reached 71 per cent.
Hospital staff replaced by Omanis included 352 doctors, 224 pharmacists, 1,465 nurses, 576 medical assistants and 252 other workers.
Oman’s Minister of Health, Dr Ahmed Al Saidi, said: “The total number of employees at the Ministry of Health by the end of 2018 reached 39,220 at the Omanisation rate of 71 per cent.”
The rate of Omanisation in the category of doctors reached 39 per cent across all specialisations with consultants at 64 per cent and specialists at 26 per cent. Almost half of all general practitioners and 82 per cent of dentists are Omani.
According to the Minister, almost all pharmacists and three-quarters of their assistants are Omani, while nurses and radiologists reached 62 per cent.
Dr Taha bin Mohsin Al Lawati, head of breast cancer surgery at the Royal Hospital spoke to Times of Oman about the importance of increasing the Omanisation rate in the health sector.
“Having a national workforce is critical to the country’s health security. If we look at countries in crisis whether economic or political, the only people left are the national workforce. Therefore, having an Omanisation plan for the health sector is particularly important, and the plan set up by the Ministry of Health is correct and on the right path.
“It is true that the plan is long term but significant decisions and plans such as this cannot have short term goals,” Dr Al Lawati said.
The Ministry also revealed that the average cost of healthcare for every Omani is OMR300 per person per annum.
Dr Ahmed Al Saidi said: “In 2018, the total number of visits to outpatient clinics amounted to about 15.5 million and 95 per cent of them were Omanis.”
The number of births in 2018 was 69,310. Al Saidi added: “Of course, this increase in births is accompanied by an increase in expenses. The cost of one natural delivery is OMR180 and a Caesarean procedure costs OMR450. In 2018, maternity service costs amounted to more than OMR16 million.”
In addition, Oman’s population increases by about 80,000 people every year. As the per capita health expenditure per Omani is OMR300, the cost to meet this increase is OMR24 million per year.
“Health services have witnessed an improvement in the quality of care provided to patients. In 2018, the number of surgeries performed by the Ministry of Health was more than 121,000 compared to 92,000 in 2010.”
“This increase in the number of surgeries accompanied the expansion and spread of health services and changes in the pattern of morbidity. It also highlights increasing awareness and acceptance among the population of surgery as one of the methods of successful treatment.”
The Minister added: “While everyone believes that the development of treatment methods may affect the number of surgeries conducted, it has also been accompanied by further development in the quality of surgery.”
Statistics indicate that the number of high-tech surgeries has developed significantly over the past years. For example, the number of heart surgeries increased from 865 in 2010 to 1166 in 2018.
The Minister also revealed work has begun on three new hospitals; the new Sultan Qaboos Hospital in Salalah, the Suwaiq Hospital, and the Khasab Hospital with an estimated total cost of OMR269 million.
Additionally, plans are underway to expand the Royal Hospital to add a new operation room, a private wing with 56 beds and to increase the number of children’s wards.