Living in Oman?
Healthcare in Oman
When you prepare for life in another country, it’s only natural to be concerned about health risks and medical services abroad. First, you should talk to your family doctor about recommended immunizations for Oman.
Usually, expatriates about to move to Oman receive booster shots for standard vaccinations (measles, mumps, rubella, polio, flu, diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus), as well as additional immunizations for meningitis and hepatitis A/B. Rabies vaccinations are recommended if you belong to a high-risk group, for example veterinarians or adventure travelers.
Health Risks and Common Diseases
Fortunately, Oman is not a region at risk for malaria infections, except for the province of Musandam. However, you should still take precautions against insect bites. Sand flies are carriers of other insect-borne diseases, particularly leishmaniasis, a parasitic infection that leads to skin lesions and open sores. In extreme cases, it could even affect your internal organs. Fortunately, this disease is mostly limited to some rural areas and the southern province of Dhofar.
Other illnesses are far more common than leishmaniasis. The seasonal flu affects a big part of Oman’s population, and many expats from colder places may be overwhelmed by the heat and the sun. Afflictions like sunburn, dehydration, or heatstroke can be easily averted. Since 2012, a new, and often severe, respiratory disease, known as MERS-CoV, has been observed in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The risk of infection seems to be rather low, though.
Last but not least, if you require prescription meds, check with the Ministry of Health if you are allowed to import them, and get an official certificate from your doctor. Oman has very strict anti-narcotic laws, which include some medications commonly prescribed in other countries (e.g. anti-depressants or painkillers).
The Public Healthcare System
As part of his modernization policies, Sultan Qaboos and his government introduced a comprehensive healthcare system. Oman has made great progress in providing the populace with access to clean drinking water and sanitation, as well as in lowering the rates of infectious diseases, infant mortality, and maternal mortality.
All Omani citizens have free access to universal healthcare. Much of the staff is foreign-born or has received training abroad, but with more young Omanis completing college, this is beginning to change. In larger cities, especially Muscat, the quality of medical care is high, but you shouldn’t expect the same standards in rural areas.
Private Health Insurance for Expatriates
Unfortunately, foreign residents only benefit from Oman’s public healthcare system in the form of subsidized rather than free care and only if they are working for a state organization. The emergency rooms of all public hospitals admit medical emergencies, regardless of nationality, but that’s about it. Any non-urgent care has to be paid for immediately — often in cash. As such, it’s absolutely essential for expatriates to have a private health insurance plan.
As of January 2018, having health insurance cover is mandatory for expats in the private sector. Medical insurance is frequently offered and paid for by your Omani employer. But some of these employer-sponsored healthcare policies exclude specific private clinics or various medical services, such as mental health issues or dental care. Study your healthcare plan carefully and either renegotiate the conditions or pay for supplementary insurance out of your own pocket.
If you are looking for a doctor in Oman, try asking your embassy if they know a practitioner who speaks your mother tongue. There are various foreign-born doctors working in Oman, as well as Omani doctors who have acquired their medical training abroad. Chances are good that you will at least find someone fluent in English.
Omani Hospitals and Emergency Numbers
Over four-fifths of hospitals are owned and operated by the government. In Muscat, several public clinics also treat foreign-born patients, offering all sorts of medical services and non-urgent care:
As far as private clinics are concerned, Muscat Private Hospital seems to be popular in the expat community. There are also various optical centers and clinics for dental care in the capital, for example the Medident Dental Clinic (which now offers other primary care too).
To call the police, the fire department, or an ambulance after a traffic accident, phone 9999.
In case of any other medical emergency than a road accident, you should call the hospital directly for an ambulance or try to find your own way to the hospital, as ambulance services are limited. You can look up the emergency number of your closest public clinic on the Ministry of Health website.
The emergency numbers for Muscat’s major hospitals are as follows:
- Khoula Hospital: +968 24 563625
- Royal Hospital: +968 24 599457 (adults) or +968 24 599361 (children)
- Al Nahdha Hospital: +968 24 831255
- Muscat Private Hospital: +968 24 583790 or +968 24 583791
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