Muscat: Over 50 hospitals and clinics took part in the ELAJ International Health and Medical Treatment Expoat the Oman International Exhibition Centre (OIEC) between March 13 and 15.

Representatives were present from India, Thailand, Korea, Iran, Turkey, Germany, Ukraine, Cuba and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Free medical consultations with doctors and medical experts were also offered, along with free check-ups for eye ailments, diabetes and breast cancer. Also, representatives of the hospitals offered information on Ayurveda medicine, cosmetic surgery, dental services, skincare, spa and wellness services, orthopedic-knee and back care, and disabilities, among other ailments.

“Based on my experience, we see a minimum of 10 patients per month, but not all of them go through us, some just go directly, probably because of monetary issues. Most of the Omani patients go to Thailand for medical treatments, then India, Iran and Germany, I believe,” said a representative from Steps Health Referral Office, a medical agency based in Oman.

“For those patients who go through us, we assist them free of charge, offer consultations and help them with translators in the country. Most patients who travel have orthopedic ailments, or are car accident victims, as well as cancer and pediatric patients,” the representative added.

Dr. Abhishek Srivastav from the Sri Sri Ayurveda Clinic in Al Khuwair, which offers a holistic approach to medical care, said more than 50 per cent of their patients are from Oman. “We get lots of patients with back pain, obesity, and diabetes, as well as those patients who are very severe and need treatment for months and a proper diet. We send them to India to our Sri Sri Ayurveda hospital in Bangalore. Over 50 per cent of our patients are Omanis, and the rest are expats,” said Dr. Srivastav.

“The majority of the patients from Oman go to India because the standards are high and it is also much cheaper for services. The main medical points in India are Delhi, Mumbai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, and Chennai,” said Dr. Soumya Alikunju from Medical Coordination Services, a medical agency also based in Muscat.

It was reported in October 2015 that a large number of Omanis were regularly travelling to Germany for medical treatment. During the same time last year, regulations were formulated by the Ministry of Health (MOH) for treatment of patients abroad, which was paid for by the ministry, in which a team of five doctors would examine patients before they looked for treatment outside Oman.

Previous statistics show that in 2012 alone, more than 60,000 Omanis visited Thailand for a variety of medical treatments, and this figure was expected to rise. About 3,500 patients visited India in 2012, it was reported.

In 2010, the Ministry of Health spent RO1,693,825 to send patients for treatment abroad.

Last December, Oman’s Ministry of Health emphasised that visa rules needed to be followed by Omanis seeking healthcare in India, after 30 Omani citizens were denied entry at Chennai International Airport. It was added that anyone travelling for medical care must have a medical visa, rather than a tourist visa. Indian authorities also told Oman that their rules are being strictly enforced, and in the future no hospital in India would accept overseas patients who entered the countrywith tourist visas.

Earlier in 2014, Oman’s Ministry of Health announced ‘Oman’s Health Vision 2050’, which included the establishment of 10,000 health centers to meet increasing demands arising from the country’s growing population and the expanded geographical dimensions of Oman.

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