Before moving forward, we need to understand what Primary Health Care means. You might have heard about a term called “Primary Care”, the term primary care & primary health care can mean two separate things or the same depending on who the reader is. But recently WHO (World Health Organisation) has given recognition to the claim that they are two different terms. “Primary Care” is denoted as Personal Family Doctor level services and “Primary Health Care” is used to denote services that are provided by the government & privately owned health care institutions.
In this blog, I will shed some light on how Oman’s Primary Health Care standards have risen in the past few years, how basic health care services helped Oman and what are the key takeaways that other countries can implement to improve health care conditions.
A good healthcare system is critical for reducing family burdens and contributing to national growth. According to the OCED (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Observer, a good healthcare system ensures a strong economy; in fact, their study found that a mere 10% increase in life expectancy results in 0.4 per cent annual economic growth. Since the year 2000, the number of Healthcare professionals has increased drastically, which signifies the expansion of the whole system.
The most vital step Oman’s government has taken is that Omani nationals have free access to public health care facilities. Even though most expatriates seek medical facilities in privately owned hospitals & clinics, the standard of services provided is high for a middle-income country.
The country's rise in health care brilliance was largely financed through revenue earned from the nation’s oil and gas reserves. 50 years ago, nobody would have guessed that Oman would turn out to be a global leader in terms of health care. One out of Three children were dying before the age of Five. Most of the country’s population has suffered from Malaria, Dengue and several other diseases.
In the year 2000 WHO declared OMAN’s healthcare as the 8th best in the world, above developed countries like the United States, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom. While having the most efficient health care system they also ranked high for the most cost-effective. Since then Malaria has been eradicated from the country.
The question is: How did Oman manage to accomplish this task, in such a short time? This was accomplished by the enormous strength of its basic health services, as well as a strong push to attract expertise from outside Oman's borders to build its health care system.
Basic health care services are a fundamental human good that reduces pain and suffering. Governments around the globe are obligated to make these services available for all irrespective of wealth or ability to pay.
In Oman the idea for free health care for all came from Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al, in 1970 he pushed for universal primary care. By establishing mobile healthcare stations all over the country, 99 percent of people in the country live within 5 kilometres of a health care centre. Which also helped in taking the pressure off the nation’s Hospitals. According to experts, health care issues have been the top priority for the government in Oman. With a solid primary care strategy, the minimum life expectancy has risen to 79 years.
As Covid has blown through most of the world's health care systems, it has also revealed the ugly truth of countries' primary health care services. Even without Covid, countries must build more hospitals and mobile health care centres equipped with adequate equipment to combat all types of diseases and ensure that these services are available to everyone.
– Owen Arthur
To summarise, when it comes to healthcare. We must think and act as human beings, not as governments or countries, to overcome the hurdles associated with the world and help one another. Countries need to follow in the footsteps of Oman to secure the future of the people. Because there can be no nations without people, but nations can be built with people.