Oman faces a challenge in building one hospital, or five health centres, every year, to provide for the sultanate’s growing population, according to Darwish bin Saif bin Said al-Maharbi, undersecretary for finance and administration affairs at the Health Ministry.

Oman’s population is growing by 2.5 per cent, or 54,000 people, every year. Hospital outpatient visits increased from 9.9 million in 2000 to 12.5 million in 2010.

“We need to build one hospital, or five health centres, every year. Are we doing this? No,” said Al-Maharbi, speaking at the MEED Oman Projects Forum in Muscat on 29 October.

Health expenditure represents 2.5 per cent of Oman’s gross domestic product (GDP), which is below the global average, said Al-Maharbi, saying the ministry needs more funding to meet these challenges.

Life expectancy in Oman increased from 49.3 years in 1970 to 74 years in 2010, which has created new health challenges, he added.