Private healthcare gets healthy dose
From having just two hospitals and 13
physicians 35 years ago, Oman's efficiency in
healthcare delivery and use of financial resources
got high recognition when the country secured
top spot among 191 nations in World Health Organisation's
(WHO) 2000 World Health Report.
The Sultanate's large size and difficult terrain
physically and financially hampers the delivery
of healthcare services to its 2.5 million population.
With the Omani population growing at two per
cent annually and the presence of a large expatriate
workforce, the healthcare system is overburdened.
The inability to meet the rising demand for
government healthcare services has opened up
opportunities for private hospitals.
The 2005 national budget allotted RO 5 million
to the Ministry of Health for capital expenditures
-- the establishment of small, specialized hospitals
and clinics in rural areas. In the past few
years, private players have jumped onto the
urban scene. They have helped in supplementing
the government efforts as well as providing
ample opportunities for quality care, international
referrals and jobs to Omanis.
Currently, Oman has three private hospitals
and more than 500 clinics. The ministry encourages
private investment and even provides partial
finance up to RO 10 million to projects ranging
from private hospitals to pharmaceuticals. The
ministry regularly receives many applications
from private individuals and companies interested
in investing in the healthcare sector.
provides technical advice and extends
co-operation to private investors in setting
up hospitals, clinics and pharmaceuticals.
The ministry monitors the planning, construction
and the actual running of the private
hospital through technical protocol and
selection of doctors, nurses and paramedical
The ministry also advises private hospitals
on various protocols about patient care and,
through periodic visits, ensures that the hospitals
function within the framework of these protocols.
The main hospitals in Muscat are the Royal,
Khoula, Al Nadha, and Sultan Qaboos University
Hospital, all of which provide highly specialised
medical care and operate as referral hospitals
for the whole of the Sultanate.
The Royal Hospital is a specialist referral
health establishment equipped with advanced
technology while the Khoula Hospital is the
Sultanate's referral hospital for cases related
to orthopaedic surgery, neurosurgery, cosmetic
surgery and burns.
The Al Nahda Hospital specialises in ear, nose
and throat (ENT) surgery and eye surgery and
treatment as well as jaw, gum and dental surgery
and treatment, dermatology and nervous diseases
while the Sultan Qaboos University Hospital
is fully equipped to train students of the SQU's
College of Medicine and Health Sciences. Additionally,
the hospital offers services to the Omani community.
The two main private hospitals in Muscat are
the Muscat Private Hospital at Bausher (specializing
in obstetrics, IVF treatment, general surgery,
internal medicine and paediatrics) and the Al
Shatti Hospital in Qurm (specializing in general
medicine, cosmetic surgery and has a 'walk-in"
In Dhofar, the Sultan Qaboos Hospital in Salalah
is the main referral hospital. It has departments
for internal diseases, gynaecology and obstetrics,
paediatrics, general and orthopaedic surgery,
dermatology, eyes, ENT, dentistry and other
medical specialisations. There are five small
hospitals treating a range of disorders and
providing maternity service besides 26 health
In Dakhiliyah region, there are Nizwa Hospital,
the Nizwa Polyclinic and 11 health centers.
In Sharqiyah region, there are ten hospitals
including the Ibra Hospital (North Sharqiyah),
which also has nine health centers, and the
Sur Hospital (South Sharqiyah), which is also
served by the Sur Polyclinic and 12 health centers.
Batinah has ten hospitals, Dhahirah has five
hospitals and 13 health centers, Musandam has
three hospitals and three health centers, and
Al Wusta region has two hospitals and seven
Even with extensive network of hospitals and
health centers all over the Sultanate, there
is still more room for private polyclinics to
operate in different regions. Reputed polyclinic
chains, which have been well established in
the Middle East as well as other developing
countries, have come to Oman. The instant success
of these polyclinics should encourage other
chains to set up shop in the Sultanate.
At the forefront of Oman's private healthcare
sector is the Muscat Private Hospital, which
opened in October 2000. It is currently considered
Muscat's premier private medical facility. Located
in the rapidly developing and scenic area of
Bausher, this hospital boasts of first-class
out-patient and in-patient facilities for many
specialties, including a Diagnostic Centre with
CT Scan and the latest "open" MRI.
by Allied Medical (part of UME), an international
hospital management group with more than
27 years of experience in the Middle East,
the Muscat Private Hospital has set high
standards of patient care.
Owned by His Highness Sayyid Esaad Bin
Tarik, Al Shatti Hospital is a modern
hospital situated on the seashore of Shatti
Al Qurum district of Muscat.
It was officially opened in December 1996. With
emphasis on personalised service and efficiency,
Al Shatti provides a broad range of services,
including laser refractive surgery, personal
and group counseling and cosmetic surgical procedures,
all new to Oman.
Some key players in the private sector are the
Badra Al Samaa Polyclinic, which began with
one outlet in Ruwi about four years ago and
currently has two more outlets at Al Khuwair
and Sohar. Joint Director Abdul Latheef informed
that the group plans to start full-fledged hospitals
in Sohar and Muscat in a few years.
Al Samaa in Muscat has seen patient increase
by 300 per cent from the time of its start.
In the increased number of patients there is
equal proportion of Omanis and expatriates,"
He further stated that the proposed hospital
at Sohar has been planned to meet the rising
need for specialised healthcare and it would
be ready in one and half year's time.
Joint Director P.A. Mohammed said that the Sohar
Polyclinic was group's small venture and that
the group is setting up a hospital at Sohar.
"After acquiring a plot of land and having
submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Health
for a high-class specialty hospital in Sohar,
we are awaiting final clearance from the authorities,"
The hospital will have specialised departments
like cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, urology,
gastroenterology and neurology. Once established,
the hospital will be a giant step in the private
Joint Director V.T. Vinod said Badr Al Samaa
has always strived to give patients the best
possible medical treatment at affordable rates.
The polyclinic has been installing various latest
state-of-the-art equipment to handle a variety
of specialised medical care and treatment. "All
these innovations are made possible because
of the tremendous support we have received from
the people of Oman. This support has enabled
us to carve a name for ourselves in the annals
of Oman's the medical history."
Several other private institutions providing
healthcare include the Al Hayat Polyclinic,
which has been credited for introducing some
specialised services in the private sector,
the Apollo Polyclinic, which is associated with
the renowned Apollo Hospital Group in India,
and the Kottakal Arya Vaidyasala, which provides
alternate ayurvedic cures. Some private clinics
provide Chinese, Indian and Arabian traditional
As Dr. K. P. Raman, of Al Hayat, puts it, "there
is enough of room for private polyclinics to
operate in Oman but, ultimately, it is only
those who provide consistent, good quality and
reasonably priced services that will be popular.
We strive to offer our patients the best treatment
and best value for money."