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An expat guide to healthcare in Bahrain and Oman

Details of quality, costs, access, immunisations and emergencies.

No matter where you're thinking of moving, access to quality healthcare should be a priority. So, to help you decide whether Bahrain or Oman is the right destination for you, we've put together this easy guide to healthcare in these countries. Employers sending their staff to the Middle East can get in touch to see how group international private medical insurance can help keep employees and their families happy, healthy and productive.

In 2016, HSBC conducted a survey looking at the quality of life for expats across the globe. Out of 45 countries, Bahrain and Oman were ranked 9th and 18th respectively. It’s therefore no surprise that more expats are choosing these countries as their new home.

Health insurance for expats

In Bahrain and Oman, health services are only free for nationals. Expats living in Bahrain usually buy international private medical insurance, as employers are not required to provide their employees with medical cover.

The same is true in Oman, although this may soon change. In 2018, the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry will introduce a scheme to make sure expats working in the private sector have health insurance. Similar legislation may come into effect in Bahrain from 2019.

Quality of care

The standard of care in Bahrain is similar to that in countries such as the UK and USA. Medical centres are advanced, with modern technology, big budgets and a high ratio of health professionals to residents. The same is true in some places in Oman, although quality varies depending on the area.

Cost of care

Healthcare costs differ between Bahrain and Oman. For example, in March 2017:

  • A short trip to the doctor was more expensive in Bahrain (15 BHD/39 USD) than in Oman (8 OMR/21 USD)
  • A box of antibiotics was more expensive in Oman (7 OMR/18 USD) than in Bahrain (4 BHD/13 USD)
  • Six days of cold medicine was more expensive in Oman (2.33 OMR/6 USD) than in (1.82 BHD/4.84 USD)

Accessing services

Primary care is the first port of call for medical issues in both Bahrain and Oman. To access any health services, you must first register with a primary care centre. Bahrain has 24 major medical facilities that you can sign up to. In Oman, the vast majority of the population is within five kilometres of the nearest health centre.

If you need to see a specialist, your general doctor will refer you to secondary care services. In Bahrain, this will probably be Manama's Salmaniya Medical Complex, which is the largest public hospital in the country. Specialist services in Oman are most often delivered by military or public hospitals such as Al Hayat International Hospital or Sultan Qaboos University Hospital.

If you have health insurance, you can register at a private hospital. Large private facilities in Bahrain include the Royal Bahrain Hospital, King Hamad University Hospital or the American Mission Hospital. In Oman, the Burjeel Medical Centre at Al Azaiba is considered to be one of the best private facilities.

Dentistry in Oman and Bahrain can be expensive, and you may have to pay a premium on your health insurance policy. Most dental treatment, in both countries, is provided through private clinics.

Medical emergencies

Urgent care is available in most medical centres in Bahrain and Oman. You can contact the emergency services on 999 in Bahrain. In Oman, call 9999 but bear in mind that you may need to get yourself to hospital as their ambulance fleet is small.

Immunisations

If you do decide to move to Bahrain or Oman, you’ll need certain immunisations. If you want to live in Oman, the following vaccines or boosters are recommended:

  • meningitis
  • hepatitis A
  • hepatitis B
  • rabies
  • diphtheria
  • influenza
  • measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
  • pertussis (whooping cough)
  • polio
  • tetanus

If you'd like to move to Bahrain, you should be immunised against:

  • hepatitis B
  • diphtheria
  • tetanus
  • typhoid

If you’re an employer or broker looking for international Private Medical insurance for clients or staff, find the right telephone number for your area, here. If you’re looking for expat insurance you can get a quote here.

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