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José Alexandre Cunha

OMAN - Health & Education

José Alexandre Cunha

Chairman, Idealmed Global Healthcare Services (IGHS) Group


José Alexandre Cunha graduated in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Coimbra, with a post-graduation in management. He began his career as medical project manager in Paris at Laboratoires Servier. He has led and founded various companies and has been consultant and board member of several health groups. He founded the IGHS Group, which owns Idealmed GHS, Globalmed, Globalcare, and Globalpharma, with projects and participating companies in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

IGHS Group's new hospital, Oman International Hospital, is ready to provide the highest level of expertise and technology in the Sultanate and raise the quality of healthcare overall.

What have been some of the challenges of opening a hospital in the middle of a pandemic?

Developing a concept like this from scratch and guaranteeing that we will open the hospital by the announced date was not easy. The problem with the pandemic is not only on the human resources side but also supply chains for everything. The technology we use in the hospital comes from all over the world, so it was not easy to maintain the supply of all those technologies or ensure technical support from the companies that sold us the equipment. We also faced huge problems with talent not being able to come to Oman. In the end, everything went as planned, and we achieved the goals that we had initially set. The pandemic was a challenge, though at the same time it was also a source of motivation that the hospital can be a tool to help the system.

What role does the hospital play in the portfolio of Idealmed GHS?

Oman International Hospital is one of our main priorities, as it is our first hospital in the Middle East. Idealmed is grateful to its partners in Oman because they helped make things easier here and brought the idea to reality. This hospital will lead the private sector in Oman and be seen as a landmark center in the region. We want locals to be treated in their own country while at the same time offer our services to people from other countries, namely from the Middle East. Muscat will always be an example of the capacities of Idealmed GHS for projects such as this.

What are the benefits for international companies to expand into Oman in the healthcare sector?

If we look at the healthcare sector as a market, Oman has everything to succeed. Muscat has an international airport that can link it to all the regions in the world; therefore, we can receive patients from anywhere. At the same time, Oman’s population is growing, and that can sustain the growth of the private sector domestically. Regarding the new legislation on insurance, everyone will have health insurance, and this should be seen as an opportunity for the private sector. Hospitals need to raise the quality of services that they are providing. The market needs new, highly equipped and differentiated hospitals to complement the public services.

How did you decide on the areas of expertise that the hospital would focus on?

We had to evaluate if those centers are in line with the demands of the market. We also wanted to make sure we would provide the highest level of expertise and technology in those areas. We are in a region with a considerable number of new births every year, so we immediately thought of a fertility center with a top IVF center and a JV with Embryo Tools. This then naturally leads to neonatal ICUs, pediatric ICUs, gynecology, obstetrics, and so on. As Oman also has a prevalence of diseases such as diabetes, we also thought about ophthalmology. Given that we have an excellent team of doctors to lead the department, we wanted to guarantee that those doctors have the best equipment and medicine to treat their patients. With this, we are also helping the local landscape because we are ensuring that they will be able to share knowledge with international physicians and experts.

How will universal healthcare insurance impact the private healthcare sector in Oman?

We want to bring to the private sector quality and standards, though we need the support of all stakeholders to ensure that in the end, the community will benefit from the services that we aim to deliver. We want insurance companies to raise the level and start differentiating between providers.



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