OUTLOOK — By Arwa Al Hinaia — A friend of mine was telling me about an incident that she had recently encountered. She spoke about how she suffered from a condition of numbness in her toes. As a person who survives on the Internet, I suggested that she look up her symptoms online; Yahoo Answers is very generous with giving any answers she might be looking for. After she searched online and got the answers she sought, she decided to go to the hospital to have check-ups done and make sure that whatever she read online was confirmed. To start with, she decided to go to a government hospital, however, as any Omani would be well aware of, it would take at least a month (if the person is lucky) to be able to get an appointment to see a specialist. Since her condition was serious, she opted to go to one of the private hospitals and pay whatever fee they would charge her to get all the required tests done. My friend changed her mind after she was told how much it would cost her if she stuck to her choice. And so she went back to square one, seeking an appointment at a government hospital. As the weeks turned into months, she finally got the message that informed her of the day and time of her appointment. After having all the necessary tests done by the specialist, she was instructed to come back in a month’s time, or whenever she receives the ever so anticipated message from the hospital. Nevertheless, she was given an ointment that would “ease” the numbness by a general doctor. The only thing was, according to the leaflet in the box, the cream was an anti-fungal medicine that had nothing to do with numbness!
Dear reader, I must say, hearing that story made me recall the numerous stories I heard about the condition of our hospitals. Although we are truly grateful to have the blessing of free health care, sadly, the quality of the services has a long way ahead of it in order to improve. To start with, why does it have to be so hard to attain health care? Why does it have to take months for a person to be able to see a doctor? Not to mention the time it would take to get a CAT or MRI scan? Secondly, I always wondered, why have there been so many stories about malpractices in hospitals in Oman? In my opinion, one of the reasons that lead to these stories is the way some doctors and nurses treat the patients. Although I must admit, there some excellent doctors who have saved countless lives due to their dedication, commitment and most importantly, competence. Yet there are others who do not have the patience to listen to the patient. They say “patience is a virtue”, a virtue some doctors do not possess. Listening to the patient is one of the key aspects that prevent malpractices. Who other than the patient would know where the problem lays? When a patient tries to explain to a doctor what’s wrong with them and why they are there to see the doctor in the first place, and the doctor appears to be as bored as a person watching paint dry, it does not help in preventing the negligence matter. Another issue, the less privileged people who cannot do research on their symptoms. This category of people is in the most dangerous zone because they do not understand what their problem is which leads to their condition being taken lightly, even though it might be extremely serious. Last but not least, I would like to shed some light on a very crucial subject, which is: prescribing the wrong medication to patients. As I mentioned previously, my friend was given a medication that had nothing to do with her case. There are several other stories which are similar to my friend’s story which I am sure many people can tell. My question is why is this happening? Why do we have doctors who lack the competence to prescribe the right medication? Why aren’t they monitored?
Nevertheless, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The conference that took place recently has given me that hope. The International Conference on Health Vision 2050 was a great leap towards improvement. Its objectives were to improve and enhance the health care facilities as well as expand the number of health care centres in Oman. Adding to that, the quality and efficiency of the services provided will be upgraded. Also, high tech equipment will be introduced which will have a major effect on the progress of the health care system. Hopefully, the future generation will not have to go through what the previous generations experienced. I feel the urge to quote Virgil when he said:” The greatest wealth is health”
I couldn’t agree more. In order for this country to flourish and prosper, the health of the people should be prioritised as number one on the list of priorities. I am confident that it won’t take 50 years to see change; however, we will just have to wait and see and hope that this vision is materialised.