Oman Table of Contents
Developments in the health and medical sector paralleled those in education. In 1970 there was one twelve-bed hospital operated by United States missionaries and nine government health centers. In 1990 there was a total of forty-seven hospitals, compared with fourteen in 1980. The number of doctors increased from 294 to 994 in the same ten-year period, and the number of nurses more than quadrupled from 857 to 3,512.
The government's health policy is directed at achieving a level of health care that approaches its goal of Health for All by the Year 2000. Included among the health priorities of the Ministry of Health are strengthening curative services, particularly in urban areas, and improving preventive services, with the emphasis on communicable diseases and immunization. The Public Health Department of the Ministry of Health is responsible for mass immunizations for smallpox and other infectious diseases. The government stresses delivering maternal and child health care at the village level to decrease the infant mortality rate, estimated in mid-1992 at forty-four per 1,000. Life expectancy in mid-1992 was sixty-four years for males and sixtyeight years for females. The government is also expanding its education program, especially with regard to maternal and child health care. In July 1987, the country held its first workshop on acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) to increase awareness of the problem in the medical community. Contraceptives are available at private hospitals and dispensaries and through commercial outlets. Abortion is illegal except when the mother's life is endangered.
Although adequate health facilities exist in urban centers, coverage in rural areas remains insufficient. As a result, the government is continuing to develop health services as an integral part of national development. The Fourth Five-Year Development Plan (1991-95) allocated RO48 million (for value of the Omani riyal--see Glossary), which is equivalent to US$124.7 million, for this purpose. Ministry of Health plans include a 100-bed hospital in Al Buraymi and a 200-bed hospital at Ar Rustaq, southeast of Qurayyat, to replace the existing medical facility in Ar Rustaq and to serve as a central, referral hospital for the region. Other projects include replacing all outpatient clinics at the Royal Hospital polyclinic in the capital and building a new 200-bed hospital at Ibri and a 200-bed hospital at Tanam, in the interior north of Ibri.
Data as of January 1993