Muscat: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it numerous challenges, especially concerning the vulnerability of persons living with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), said Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Al Saidi, Minister of Health and First Deputy of WHO-Executive Board, while representing the Sultanate at the WHO event.
Our health systems recognised this danger at the onset of the pandemic and ensured prioritisation of NCDs and mental health in their COVID-19 response, said the Health Minister.
In Oman, as in many countries, the situation imposed by the pandemic has led to innovation. Measures were introduced at all levels of care based on the use of technology in raising awareness and providing services.
He elaborated that examples and evidence-based best practices are many, ranging from counselling through hotline services and telemedicine clinics; and the use of technology in scheduling appointments to collect medications and share vital measurements.
He pointed out that since the meeting in December 2019, Oman has taken several actions to mitigate such diseases by introducing taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages, the Omani standard for bread (stating the upper limit of salt in bread), and enhanced integration of managing the most common mental illnesses in primary healthcare.
The Sultanate, represented by the Ministry of Health, at the World Health Organization (WHO), launched the WHO Unhealthy Lifestyle Diseases Report in which a number of senior officials of the ministry of health also took part.
Giving a keynote address, the Health Minister affirmed that non-communicable diseases remain a common burden to the international community, and one that will require organised efforts beyond the health sector.
Al Saidi said that hosting the global meeting to accelerate progress on SDG Target 3.4 on NCDs and Mental Health in Oman in December 2019 has helped Oman build a better understanding of the important role of non-health sectors in controlling the threat they represent.
He added that the meeting offered a capacity-building opportunity for NCD and mental health professionals.
In his address, the Health Minister emphasised the country’s commitment to addressing the burden of NCDs in the face of all and any challenges, affirming their continuous strive to strengthen non-communicable diseases data and monitoring processes which would pave the way for successful implementation towards the SDG targets that have been set.