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Department of Communicable Disease Surveillance & Control
Directorate General of Health Affairs Ministry of Health HQ, PO Box 393
Sultanate of Oman

Tel :     + (968) 24601921/ 24607524
Fax :    + (968) 24601832
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About Us

Review of achievements in the control of communicable diseases in Sultanate of Oman

As a result of all policy developments and activities of the Ministry of Health (MoH), communicable diseases burden in the community has dramatically declined in the past two decades.This review is not intended to describe individual health programs; their description can be found in other documents.

Among the very first health programs to belaunched in 1975 was "Malaria Eradication".This vertical program is managed independently by the Department of Malaria Eradication and has achieved remarkable success.

The "National Communicable Diseases Surveillance System (CDS)" was functional since 1987 and was further strengthened and formally launched in March 1991. A number of communicable diseases (today a total of forty) are under on-going surveillance. The EPI program was launched in 1981 and today has twelve antigensincluded in the childhood immunization programme. The effective implementationof the program hasmaintained the vaccine coverage continuously high since the late 80s resulting in decline in all vaccine preventable diseases (VPD). Since 1993, the Sultanate is free of poliomyelitis.The Sultanate is on the path to achieve measles/rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) elimination. ‘Zero’ status of Diphtheria was maintained since 1992 and neonatal tetanus eliminated since 1991.The achievements in the control of tuberculosis were remarkable. The "Tuberculosis Control Program" was launched in 1981. The success could be attributed to high vaccine coverage, implementation of DOTS, effective case defaulter retrieval system, prompt and extensive contact tracing, cross-indexing system and detailed epidemiological investigations for every tuberculosis case.The "Program of Control of Leprosy" achieved 100% coverage by Multi Drug Therapy (MDT). Leprosy is now no more considered as a public health problem in Oman.

The achievements in child health could be clearly appreciated if Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Under 5 Mortality Rate (U5MR) are compared. IMR declined from 118 in early 70s to 10.2 in 2010while U5MR declined from 181 to 12.3 per 1000 live births during the same period.

The zoonotic (animal-to-human) communicable diseases of importance in Oman are Leishmaniasis, Brucellosis and Rabies. The first human case of rabies was reported in 1990 following a fox bite. Sylvatic rabies is endemic in red foxes (Vulpusvulpus). Strict guidelines of post-exposure therapy (PET) with anti-rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin was established for animal bite cases. As a result the human rabies incidence is relatively rare in Oman. Last case was reported in 2003 from Dhofar. Leishmaniasis (visceral and cutaneous) shows indigenous low level of transmission in Oman in Sharqiyah and Dhofar Governorates.Brucellosis is also a public health problem in Dhofar.

The MoH initiated number of activities to address the threat of emerging infectious diseases due to population mobility, ecological imbalance, urbanization and industrialization, inappropriate use of antibiotics/insecticides, globalization of food supplies etc. In order to strengthen capabilities nationally and at the regional level the epidemic preparedness plans were developed for early detection and control of communicable outbreaks.

The Sultanate of Oman is witnessing an epidemiological shift in disease pattern.The communicable diseases have declined to low levels and the non-communicable diseases have started to emerge as priority due to demographic changes as a result of increased life expectancy and changes in the life style that have accompanied the economic developments in the country.