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Vital health indicators improve despite COVID-19

17 Aug 2021

Oman has remained free of many diseases, including polio since 1993, and diphtheria and neonatal tetanus since 1991. The incidence rates of other communicable diseases have also decreased. The number of malaria cases dropped to 276 cases in 2020 compared to 1,338 cases in 2019, according to the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) Annual Health Report 2020.

With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the health sector severely, the report found a decrease in the use of health services in 2020. The number of outpatient clinic visits to MoH institutions in 2020 dropped to 10.5mn compared to about 15.7mn in 2019.

The vital health indicators like death rate among children under five years and infant mortality rate have improved in 2020. 

The Annual Health Report 2020 was issued by MoH, represented by the Information & Statistics Department of the Directorate General of Planning and Studies. The report highlights the main services provided by the health sector in 2020 along with health and vital indicators and sustainable development goals indicators. The report also contains a brief on the most important MoH studies and researches over the past years. 

The report shows an increase in the ministry’s expenditure compared to the previous three years (2017 to 2019). The total recurrent expenditure of MoH amounted to approximately RO972.5mn in 2020 compared to approximately RO793.3mn in 2019, reflecting a 22.6 per cent increase. In contrast, development expenditure decreased from RO21.6mn in 2019 to RO15.7mn in 2020.

The total number of health centres and polyclinics operated by the ministry was 211, including 54 health centres with a capacity of 84 beds, and 21 polyclinics at the end of 2020. Additionally, there were 51 hospitals with 5,262 beds at the end of 2020. Many services were also added to these institutions in order to improve the quality of health care provided at all levels. A field hospital for COVID-19 equipped with 202 beds was also set up. 

There were 38,566 employees of MoH the end of December 2020 with an Omanisation rate of 73 per cent.

Among vital indicators, crude birth rate among Omanis was 28.6 per 1,000 population in 2020, while crude death rate was 3.2 per 1,000 population. Death rate among children under five years of age decreased to 9.3 per 1,000 live births in 2020, compared to 10.2 per 1,000 live births in 2019. Infant mortality rate (less than one year) per 1,000 live births decreased from 8.0 to 7.6 for the same period.

The report also showed a control on measles. No case of the disease was recorded in 2020. 

The incidence rates of other communicable diseases have decreased to lowers levels – malaria cases dropped to 276 cases in 2020 compared to 1,338 cases in 2019.

The pandemic has posed a great challenge to all health systems, whether in the most or least developed countries in the world. ‘The health system in the sultanate, along with all state apparatus, has confronted this challenge with efficiency and competency, relying on the strong infrastructure that was built over the years and on the competencies of its human resources for health, implementing simultaneously all international standards and policies set for the fight against the pandemic,’ the report stated.

Furthermore, the report touches upon morbidity and mortality pattern. The statistics indicate a change in the epidemiological map in the sultanate with COVID-18 changing the equation of the epidemiological change in the sultanate similarly to the rest of the world. ‘Therefore, the report showed high death rates due to communicable diseases.’

The average number of visits per citizen to outpatient clinics was 3.7 during the year 2020, which led to a decrease in the total number of discharged patients from MoH’s health institutions to about 257,000 in 2020, with an average period of hospitalisation of 3.7 days and bed occupancy rate of 47.8 per cent. 

The report also indicated about various surgical operations that were performed in theatre rooms of MoH institutions. There were close to 52,700 surgeries in 2020, at a rate of 11.4 surgeries per 1,000 population. The report includes statistics on health services used such as the number of admissions, radiology and dialysis services.

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