Environmental problems are still a common cause of diseases in many societies. For several decades, the Sultanate has been actively working on improving various aspects of its environmental health e.g. provision of safe and clean drinking water, prevention and correction of wells’ water pollution, air pollution prevention, and waste management. Despite all the previously mentioned efforts, several places around the country are still suffering. The ultimate result is the spread of different types of medical conditions, together with their subsequent financial burden on the MOH. That is why MOH has to play a proactive role and get more involved in the supervision, evaluation, monitoring, and improvement of environmental studies, status, and policies.
The dramatic recent improvements in civilization, medical services, as well as awareness level in Oman led to preventing and controlling many environmentally-caused diseases. However, in a similar fashion to what is going on in many other nations, the economical and industrial developments worsened several problems such as air pollution, hazardous waste issues, and caused an increase in poisoning cases. Additionally, it is expected that occupationally-related health conditions are on the rise. This is because the Sultanate has wisely adopted Ominisation program. We need to support this program as much as we can through establishing and provision of safe workplace environments for our national human resources. Consequently, occupational health and safety programs need to be continuously developed and implemented. Generally speaking, occupational health is mainly preventive in nature since curing such diseases might turn out to be difficult. Also, it is the MOH that will have to deal with such a burden. That is why all the agencies which interact with the Sultanate realize that medical services have to take the responsibilities of planning, monitoring, and evaluating occupational health policies in Oman. In fact, this objective has already been embarked on.
There was a desperate need for a long time for a central registry of poisoning cases and a complete database of poisoning types in Oman. Concerned people in MOH realized the importance of this issue and eventually the Poison Control Center (PCC) made these objectives real. The ‘National Guidelines for Management of Poisoning Cases’ book and establishment of a laboratory in PCC helped to unify the management of different kinds of poisoning cases across all health care institutes. It also increased awareness level among health care providers as well as the general community. In addition, the PCC is on the way to assuming a much more vital role in the near future. This role will be performed in a better way when the currently-functioning laboratory becomes fully operational.
The emphasis that the MOH places on research and environmental studies; and on provision of qualified human resources and databases contributed a lot in carrying out several studies in relation to drinking water quality, management of wastes, and assessment of environmental effects on susceptible groups such as children. These efforts were also of help to improve other public health programs that are conducted by other governmental agencies. Examples of such programs are occupational health and management of hazardous and solid wastes.
The environmental changes that take place in any part of the world definitely affect neighboring as well as distant places in one way or another. The Sultanate, being an active country both touristic-wise and economically, is no exception to the previous rule. Perhaps, the health implications resulting from earthquakes and high tides in Asia; and the recent environmental disaster in Oman; namely cyclone Gono; are excellent examples to draw our attention forcefully in order to taking precautionary measures in preparation for such issues as well as managing their aftermath problems.
- Improving the services at the laboratory of the PCC
- Provision of poisoning management information and guidelines to all health care providers in Oman on a 24 / 7 basis
- Supporting carrying out many more environmental poisoning studies and research
- Establishment of clear and definite guidelines, rules and regulations to be supervised by one agency
- Education and training of national medical and supportive personnel in regard with occupational health
- Realization of the concept of ‘health supportive working environments’
- Proper training of workers in order to prevent accidents, injuries, and diseases resulting from workers’ negligence and lack of information
- Establishment of a complete system for the surveillance of occupational injuries and diseases
- Reduction of occupational accidents and injuries by 20 % annually
- Encouraging major corporations to take an active part in developing the local community and playing a proactive role in regard with limiting the negative consequences of their operations
- Encouraging those sectors concerned with and related to agriculture and fisheries to provide health and safety services to their clients
- Implanting the concept of ‘occupational safety’ in the general community
- Incorporation of occupational health and safety program into the primary health services in MOH
- Evaluating and studying of the psychological effects of occupational hazards and burdens
- Provision and establishment of rules and regulations that organize the responsibilities and rights of women in the industrial and economical sectors
- Provision of continuous training for employees
- Creation of a working strategy for the laboratory at the PCC
- Appointment and training of required human resources
- Establishment of poisoning databases
- Coordination with the mutually concerned and related agencies and sectors
- Creation and carrying out of a plan to increase health awareness level in the general community
- Carrying out a study about lead poisoning in children aged 6 – 24 months in a health center in Muscat Governorate
- Increasing the level of awareness among businessmen / businesswomen about the importance of occupational health and safety in boosting productivity and profits
- Participation in the preparation of a list of guidelines about occupational health and safety procedures in the private sector
- Increasing the level of awareness among employers about occupational hazards and prevention methods
- Medical evaluation of all suspected cases in order to evaluate for the possibility of occupational diseases
- Monitoring the health condition of workers who had 5 years or more in high risk occupations
- Implementing and enforcing administrative and medical decisions in confirmed occupational conditions
- Making it a must to have a specialized occupational health physician in all ‘disability evaluation committees’ in the MOH
- Establishment of system for pre-employment medical screening as well as periodic full medical check-ups depending on relative and possible exposure hazards. Details such as who and when to be examined, who pays, how to be done… need to be predetermined.
- Determining and carrying out the appropriate procedures based on medical examination results
- Having a detailed system for conducting various environmental measurements (what and how to be carried out, costs, monitoring…) and predetermination of appropriate procedures that are based on environmental measurement results.
- Making a diagnostic and notification system for 100 % of cases whether being occupational accidents or injuries. Establishing a database about accidents and injuries by using the available information so as extrapolations and intervention programs can be developed in the future.
- Evaluation of the negative environmental effects resulting from the activities of major companies
- Studying the occupational hazards in both governmental and private sectors
- Participation in the construction of an educational curriculum that can be incorporated in schools
- Training of a number of physicians from each and every region to become occupational health and safety Focal Points
- Contribution in making a study program for occupational health inspectors in coordination with the Ministry of Manpower and the private sector
- Conducting a one-week occupational health training for all newly-graduated Omani doctors; immediately after graduation
- Looking at the causes of psychological problems and health status of certain targeted groups
- Studying women’s work-related health and social problems
- Development and improvement of human resources
- Improvement of infrastructures (labs, measurement instruments…)
- Improving coordination among the various sectors
- Improving health at work places