Morocco to regionalise healthcare to provide better access to citizens
By Sarah Touahri for Magharebia in Rabat -- 29/09/06
The Moroccan government has decided to regionalise its health sector so that equal access to healthcare will be available to all Moroccans.
"It will no longer be acceptable for people in distant regions to suffer. Healthcare has become a top-priority practice," Professor Adil Bensouda, general secretary of the Moroccan heart and circulation interdisciplinary college, told Magharebia.
The level of healthcare infrastructures differs among Moroccan regions. Large hospitals and private clinics are concentrated in the Kénitra-Al Jadida corridor, on the Moroccan central coast near Casablanca. The imbalance has driven the government to consider setting up hospitals in the regions furthest from Rabat.
Bensouda thinks regionalisation will be essential for the future and that localising healthcare is a top priority.
The idea is to bring doctors closer to the public. The first regional health directorate has been set up in eastern Morocco in Oujda.
The pilot scheme for decentralising health administration is being carried out as part of the plan to support health sector management. The Health Ministry hopes to expand the initiative to other regions over the coming years. The strategy will lead to improvements in everyday care for citizens.
Doctor Cherkaoui Ahmed declared that regionalisation in healthcare requires sustained effort. He explained that in a varied country such as Morocco, behaviours and pathologies are strongly influenced by the environment, as shown by geographical variations in birth rates, deaths in child-bearing and infant mortality, AIDS, goitres, tuberculosis, and road accidents. He feels regionalisation is important so that such differences can be considered when making plans and developing strategies.
Doctor Mohamed Boubkri, general secretary of the independent union of doctors in the public sector, fears the substantial lack of human resources could stand in the way of regionalisation.
"We're not recruiting enough doctors into the public sector. There's also a noticeable lack of paramedics. These are some of the obstacles to regionalisation,” he stated.
Salima Berrada, a paediatrician, shares this opinion. She thinks Morocco must develop the necessary human resources and redeploy them according to the needs of each region. She says that most doctors do not want to practise in the towns and rural areas a long way from Rabat or Casablanca.
"We have to think of a way of encouraging young doctors to settle in various regions. For this to happen, we must not simply set up an adequate health structure, but also provide leisure and entertainment facilities," she asserted.
Harmonising what is offered across the country will contribute to the improvement of service quality. Moroccans hope that regionalisation will live up to its promises so that all citizens will have easy access to health care.
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