Healthcare in Oman
The standard of healthcare in Oman is high thanks to government investment in a national health service over the past few decades. Both public and private medical facilities provide a good standard of care, and there are now more than 180 local, district and regional health facilities in Oman, with the largest and best facilities located in Muscat.
Most of Oman’s medical doctors and staff are expatriates. However, with the government’s policy of Omanisation, this is slowly changing, and Omani nationals are being encouraged into the medical field.
Medical treatment in Oman can be expensive and facilities may expect payment upfront. Expats should ensure that they full medical insurance.
Medical facilities in Oman
Omani nationals and those from other Arab Gulf Co-operation Council (AGCC) countries receive free medical treatment in public hospitals in Oman. Expats are expected to pay, and are generally only permitted to use public hospitals in the case of an emergency, or where diagnosis or treatment of their ailment is not available in the private sector. Expats working in the government sector and their dependents may also receive free medical care in public hospitals. The most respected public hospitals in Oman include the Royal Hospital of Oman and the Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, both in Muscat.
Expats generally prefer to use private healthcare facilities. There are a number of excellent private hospitals in Oman, with many of them being compared to five-star hotels in terms of services and facilities. The costs are comparable to this as well. Muscat Private Hospital is the largest private hospital in the city, and staffed by Western and Asian-trained physicians. Starcare Hospital and Altas Hospital are two other popular private hospitals in Muscat.
There are also private medical facilities in Oman that specialise in homeopathy, and Chinese and traditional Hindu ayurvedic medicine.
Pharmacies and medicines in Oman
Pharmacies are widely available in Oman. Many are open 24 hours a day, and hospitals also have pharmacies operating around the clock. Many Western medicines are available in Oman, but the Omani Health Ministry has banned the use of tranquilisers, anti-depressants and sleeping pills, except for extreme cases where patients are suffering from certain mental illnesses. Painkillers and cough medicines are available in supermarkets. Expats must keep the receipts for any prescription medicines if intending to claim from their medical aids.
Health hazards in Oman
Heat stroke and exhaustion, sunburn and dehydration – all related to the extreme temperatures in Oman – are common medical ailments affecting expats. Always keep well hydrated.
Health insurance in Oman
Companies in Oman are not obliged to provide health insurance to their expat employees. Expats should therefore ensure that they have private medical insurance as medical expenses can prove costly. Those who don’t possess medical insurance, or the means to settle any medical charges, may be prevented from leaving Oman until all their bills are paid.
Emergency services in Oman
The ambulance service in Oman is relatively new, so the fleet of trained staff and vehicles is small. It’s not uncommon for Omanis and expats to use their own vehicles or a taxi to get to a hospital in an emergency. Although most emergency personnel can speak English, it’s wise to learn a few key phrases in Arabic.