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Robust health

The nation’s health infrastructure is undergoing a huge transformation with public and private sectors joining hands. Investments in the health sector have touched to 600 million rials, according to HE Ahmed Bin Hassan Al Dheeb, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The official told a meeting of the Shura Council Committee that the nation has 5,647 healthcare units. The rapid expansion in healthcare coverage has resulted in better health standards across the nation. A distinct change is that expert care is now available across the nation and not just in the cities. The nation’s planners must be appreciated for providing the right economic and regulatory framework to fast track healthcare infrastructure projects. The achievements in healthcare could not have happened without collaboration among agencies under different ministries. Different agencies’ efforts have been synergised by the processes installed to facilitate speedy implementation of projects based on international best practices. This has helped the Sultanate build a world-class system that reaches every part of the nation. The three-tier system of primary, referral and tertiary levels of healthcare institutions has been found to be among the best. No wonder the Sultanate has received accolades from experts around the word for the effective delivery of health services. This has no wonder resulted in improving life expectancy of the people of the Sultanate. The Ministry of Health has said in a recent report that better health status of the nation could result in a doubling of population in 30 years.

This is both challenge and opportunity for the nation. Statistics show that 45.1 per cent of the population is below 20 years with only 6 per cent in the 60 and above category. With married women averaging four childbirths, every Omani family has on an average 7.8 members. The government’s concern for people’s health is evident from the fact that a healthy 2.7 per cent of the gross domestic product is earmarked for healthcare. Government healthcare institutions offer about 92.5 per cent of hospital beds in the nation. The comprehensive healthcare programme helps meet 81.1 per cent of the national population’s medical expenditure. The scale of progress that the nation has achieved over the plan period is clear when one takes into consideration the fact that 79 treatment and diagnostic services have been newly launched. The government has been giving particular care to building the right healthcare infrastructure that would help extend coverage across different parts of the Sultanate. The policy of taking healthcare to the people of the remotest parts should be appreciated.

The nation’s population band in the young age-group makes it necessary that there is rapid expansion of educational and job training facilities. It is commendable that the government’s focus on steady education spending has made it possible to tackle the increasing need for better training facilities. It also justifies the government’s push for diversifying the economy to place more jobs at the disposal of the youth. Of course, the aging population would mean the government must put in place the right infrastructure that could take care of the specialised needs of the 60 plus citizens. That is why a planning shift is imperative.