The country of Oman (officially know as Sultanate of Oman), located on the Arabian peninsula, can provide an example of a recovered and thriving healthcare system. Since 1970, Oman has been developing a highly esteemed healthcare system that is based on an efficient three-tiered system. The primary care model has produced a considerably healthier population compared to 50 years ago.

Oman’s Healthcare Progress

The progress of healthcare in Oman is represented in the statistics. Before His Majesty Sultan Qaboos first sat on the Omani throne in 1970, only 13 doctors were working for the 724,000 citizens of Oman. Since then, the number of doctors, as well as the number of hospitals, have grown tremendously. In 1958 there were only 2 hospitals while today there are 70 hospitals that are world-renowned for their medical treatment. There was also a significant growth in life expectancy from around 50 years in 1970 to over 76 years today.

At the beginning of his reign, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos made universal healthcare a goal, pushing for additional resources and policies to create accessible healthcare. The commitment of the government, including a law that ensures that the government will invest “in health care as a means of ensuring citizens’ well-being,” proved to be the momentum that the healthcare system needed to expand. With this commitment, a large amount of the government’s revenue from gas and oil, one of Oman’s largest exports, provided the healthcare sector the funding it needed to build hospitals, and improve medical staff and policy. By 2000, healthcare in Oman was ranked number eight in the world by the World Health Organization.

Moving Toward Universal Care

In addition to funding, healthcare needs policies to create a strong and lasting infrastructure. The platform on which Oman would grow its healthcare sector toward universal care was the focus on free primary care for all citizens. The aforementioned three-tiered healthcare system implemented in the Oman consists of primary care (hospitals at a local level), secondary care (care from a regional and district level), and tertiary care (any national care a citizen might receive.) By funding and creating ubiquitous accessibility for primary care, citizens can access healthcare in their community and be directed into a higher level or specialty if needed. Free primary healthcare for all has increased the quality and efficiency of healthcare in Oman.

Preventative Care

Healthcare in Oman has been effective in increasing life expectancy, decreasing child mortality and detecting diseases because there is a focus on preventative care. Preventive care is intertwined with the idea of accessible primary care because it encourages early detection of disease as well as easy and unburdened emergency care. Citizens can access the care they need without worrying about the cost of visiting a hospital in an emergency. In addition, the increasing amount of doctors who have an international perspective allows citizens to be better informed about their health issues and for doctors to take proactive measures in stopping development.

The progress made by Oman’s healthcare sector has caused significant positive change. From the efficient use of oil and gas revenue in the funding of hospitals to free primary healthcare for all, healthcare in Oman has arranged a secure and community-based framework that promises even greater future progress towards exemplary healthcare for all citizens. As the country continues to grow its investment in preventive care as well as the expansion of privatized healthcare, other healthcare systems can learn from Oman’s effective resource and policy implementation that has greatly improved healthcare for its citizens.

– Jennifer Long
Photo: Flickr

World_crisis The World BankOn April 5, 2016, the World Bank Group’s President Jim Yong Kim gave a speech titled “Development in a Time of Crisis” addressing the need for world powers to step in and address the obstacles that keep developing economies from flourishing.

Kim began his speech addressing the Syrian refugee crisis that has caused political polarization in a lot of developed countries.

He insists that the only way to combat the risk of future refugee crises is ameliorating poverty in displaced nations. “If fragile states still have 47 percent of their people living on less than two euros (about $2.27) a day by 2030, while the developed world prospers, the flow of migrants will not stop,” Kim noted.

In the speech, the World Bank President mentions Europe and Germany specifically lauding them for their efforts to settle the displaced Syrians. Part of the strategy to counter the risk of further displacement is increasing the amount of foreign aid that gets circulated to the developing economies.

Earlier this year, a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recorded a 13 percent increase in the amount of Foreign Direct Aid circulated.

Expanding this kind of aid will lead to the poverty relief that can reduce the size of migratory crises. With this in mind, Kim began a discussion on how the World Bank can best mitigate these problems. In particular, he made reference to a recent loan to the country of Jordan.

The “groundbreaking” loan seeks to reward the Middle Eastern country for their efforts in easing the migratory crisis in neighboring Syria.

The loan, accepted in late March 2016, will provide $100 million to support the Jordanian education system as refugees enter the country. While funds provided to middle-income nations like Jordan typically come with a particular interest rate, this   concessionary loan will be provided with a longer payback period and less interest.

These types of new lending schemes are part of a New Financing Initiative which is expected to roll out programs worth $20 billion over 5 years.

The Jordanian loan and the financing initiative behind it led Kim to discuss three of the broader changes in the objectives of the World Bank:

  • “First, addressing the challenge of global threats that cross boundaries and regions will become ever more central to achieving our mission.” Kim asserts this as necessary in a globalized world where problems can quickly spread across the world.
  • “Second, we must focus much more effectively on managing risk and uncertainty.” Protecting those rising out of poverty from falling back prevents the damage caused by sudden crises.
  • “The third major change for us is that we must do much more to address the deep pockets of poverty and rising inequality in countries at every income level.”

The top World Bank official closed the speech by acknowledging the threat of global pandemic. In fact, Kim cites studies saying diseases like Ebola and the Zika virus could “lead to tens of millions of deaths and a loss of as much as five percent of global GDP – or roughly $4 trillion.”

Ebola and Zika outbreaks over the past two years have shown the health risks that are prevalent in an interconnected world. The CDC has reported transmission of the Zika virus in over 35 nations and the Ebola outbreak caused over 11,000 deaths across various African countries.

In response, the World Bank plans to design and fund the Pandemic Emergency Financing which hopes to create “creating a response system that will cost millions of dollars per year that could save hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives – and save billions, if not trillions, of dollars.”

These issues are just a few that Kim hopes that the World Bank can address in the near future. He reminds the world that fighting poverty and global issues is a careful process focused on “one region, one country and one person at a time.”

Jacob Hess

Photo: Flickr