OMAN - Health & Education
CEO — Oman, Aster Al Raffah Hospitals & Clinics
Ashendu Kumar Pandey is a trained orthopedic surgeon with more than 18 years of experience in healthcare and hospital management in all the three formats (pre-hospital, hospital, and post-hospital rehabilitation care) in India and the GCC. He holds a distinguished track record of exceptional financial turnaround of hospitals, successful hospital commissioning, and mergers. He last served as regional COO – Oman for VPS Healthcare and previously held leadership roles with C K Birla Hospitals, Max Healthcare, and Fortis healthcare. In his current role at Aster DM Healthcare, he is responsible for managing Aster Al Raffah hospitals and clinics across Oman.
The Aster Mobile Bus is our CSR initiative in all the geographies that we operate. The bus goes to one remote village or area every week and provides free treatment to the population there. We have a timetable where one month the bus is in Muscat, one month in Sohar, and one month in Ibri. The local doctors and nurses from that particular region join the bus as staff and go to villages. When the pandemic started, the Ministry of Health had an issue in Muttrah, and our medics went with the bus to every household, ringing doorbells and asking them to do testing. In three months, we tested everyone in Humriyyah and Muttrah. After that, the government set up its own mobile testing units, and we returned to our original activity of providing primary healthcare to the population of Oman who cannot afford it. With mobile testing, we provide efficacy and efficiency, so our plan now is for each region to have at least one such bus.
The biggest opportunity would be universal healthcare—the insurance scheme that will be launched in 4Q2021. Similar to other GCC countries, everybody in Oman needs to have health insurance. If that happens, the number of patients currently visiting government hospitals will fall. Now, everyone goes to government hospitals because they are free, leading to long waiting lists and pressure on the government sector. This would change if patients do not need to pay at private hospitals. Private healthcare currently provides primary and secondary care but not tertiary care. The government should focus on niche services and leave the rest to the private sector in order to take some pressure off. I see great potential for private clinics with a single GP, as 80% of the population’s healthcare issues can be dealt with by a GP. Nevertheless, there is also an opportunity for private companies to venture into tertiary treatment by creating single-specialty clinics.
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