Healthcare funds are an indispensable part of modern healthcare systems and insurance ecosystems. By carrying out fundraising campaigns and investing in a vast range of promising businesses, healthcare funds make sure that, in the future, they will have the financial means to lend a helping hand to people in need.
As it happens, healthcare funds are inclined to invest in the sector they know best—healthcare—such as by buying pharmaceutical manufacturers, hospitals, and medical equipment companies. Thus, they are both making an investment and well-placing themselves to provide healthcare-related services and goods for their help-seekers.
Oman did not have a local healthcare fund until recently, but the COVID-19 pandemic alerted the authorities to the necessity of having such a fund in place to support the population, especially the more vulnerable individuals, during challenging times. The Sultanate subsequently launched its first health endowment fund (HEF) commonly known as Aman Healthcare.
As the majority of the Oman’s population are practicing Muslims, the fund will operate in accordance with Islamic sharia rules and will work under the watch of the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs. Waqf is an Islamic form of endowment in which those with sufficient financial means endow a sum to nonprofit funds or business for the benefit of society. Oman’s first healthcare fund is expected to encourage the Sultanate’s more affluent citizens to help the newly launched HEF through the Islamic practices of waqf. The grants will then be invested wisely in the healthcare sector as well as other businesses to create added value without violating the rules of sharia.
Minister of Health Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Obaid Al Saidi will serve as the chairman of Aman Healthcare for a period of five years, and he will be assisted by a board of directors comprising “Dr. Ali bin Talib al Hinai, Ahmed bin Abdullah al Khonji, Dr. Halima bint Qalam al-Hinaiya, Sultan bin Khalid al Busaidi, Nasr bin Amir al Hosni, and Ali bin Hassan al Lawati,” according to Oman Observer.
Aman Healthcare will spend the funds it raises and the secondary profits created by them to promote the health of Omani society in general and less privileged citizens who qualify for assistance. The healthcare fund will contribute to the treatment costs of its help-seekers, the costs of their medications, and even construct hospitals and clinics of its own to serve the public.
The health endowment fund will also invest in medical research in the Sultanate, which can improve the state of medical know-how across the country. The fund’s investments, however, will not be limited to the healthcare sector; any businesses with the potential to generate money for the fund such as real estate, agriculture, and industry will be considered—as long as the form of investment is compatible with the rules of Islamic sharia.
If the news is to be entirely trusted, the fundraising is going according to plan. Oman Investment Cooperation (OIC) says that in the first phase of fundraising, some OMR20 million (USD60 million) was granted by the private sector. By the end of the second phase, the sum will hopefully be over OMR50 million (USD130 million).
The money is already being put to good use. While the construction of a hospital specializing in looking after children and women has started in the city of Sohar, the cornerstone of a similar hospital will be laid in Muscat in 2022. The medical facilities will greatly improve the state of pediatric medicine and gynecology in Sohar and Muscat.
However, Aman Healthcare is on the lookout for even further investment opportunities. Confirming that “Aman Healthcare, as its first project, is developing two high-end specialized women and children hospitals in Sohar and Muscat,” a message shared by the company on social media also notes that “Aman Healthcare actively pursues organic and acquisition investment opportunities in various healthcare sub-sectors in Oman and the region with a focus on specialty healthcare services.”
This means the healthcare fund will strive to build more than two women’s and children’s hospitals by 2022. What is more, sectors other than healthcare may also attract the attention of Aman Healthcare, as long as they are a money-spinner. The fund acknowledged this by announcing that “Aman Healthcare targets acquisitions and growth capital investments in profitable and cash generating healthcare businesses with high growth potential.”
The joint effort between the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Health in Oman can raise the impact of the nation’s first health endowment fund on the lives of the population, particularly benefiting the less privileged citizens who might not be able to afford their required healthcare services otherwise.