Oman traffic accident rate tests health sectorHigh casualty rate poses major challenge amid a shortage of medical staffImage Credit: Oman News AgencyOman’s Health Minister, Dr Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al SaeediPublished: 13:04 June 6, 2013 By Sunil K. Vaidya, Bureau Chief SMALLMEDIUMLARGEMuscat: The traffic accident-related casualty rate is one of the biggest challenges faced by Oman’s health services, according to health minister Dr Ahmad Bin Mohammad Al Saeedi.The Royal Oman Police statistics for 2012 reveal that road accidents led to one case of injury every hour and one death was reported every eight hours due to a crash. A total of 1,139 people were killed in road accidents across the country in 2012.Brigadier Mohammad Bin Awad Al Rawas, director general of traffic with the police, had recently announced that the death rate on Oman’s roads had declined by 15 per cent in the first two and a half months of 2013.The number of fatalities rose significantly in 2012 during the tourist season in Oman’s southern region (Dhofar) from July to September. Therefore, the statistics for the current year could change as the volume of traffic increases on the mountainous roads of southern Oman in the next few months, especially after Ramadan.Dr Al Saeedi also pointed out that, besides the challenge of accident related casualties, the country’s health sector also faces a major challenge of medical staff shortage. “Health institutions suffer shortages in pharmacology, dentistry both in government as well as the private sector,” he told members of the State Council who are nominated by the country’s leader.He said that the Omanisation ratio in health services had reached 67 per cent of the total medical cadres. “It is a reasonable percentage and we are gradually increasing the rate,” he said, adding that the ministry was keen to enrol more Omanis in medical colleges while at the same time considering raising the number of such institutions in the country.The minister, according to Oman News Agency (ONA), said that there were also plans to send Omani students to European countries for undergraduate as well as postgraduate studies in various medical fields. “They would work as consultants with Omani hospitals on their return after studies,” he said.Dr Al Saeedi said that the Ministry of Health was keen to raise the number of health institutions to 250 in Oman by the end of the current five-year plan. “We are currently constructing 10 new hospitals, some will be completed very soon, some are in progress, and some will replace the existing hospitals,” he told the State Council members.Shaikh Dr Ali Bin Taleb Al Hinai, undersecretary for planning affairs at the Ministry of Health, in his presentation to the State Council members, said that the proposed Medical City to be set up in Al Fulaij, in Barka, about 100-km north of Muscat, will receive patients from referral hospitals across the country. He added that the construction work on a proposed Medical City would start once the consultant had submitted a study on the project.