Ministry Plan Outlines Reforms in Health Care System

The Ministry of Health Thurs­day released its five-year plan, with priorities that include fundamental changes in the way its medical staff view their work and treat the public in the country’s facilities.

The plan also calls for reform of the ministry’s structure and procedures to break its bureaucratic mold and bring flexibility and creativity to its management.

Health Sector Strategic Plan 2003-2007 lists six major goals geared toward offsetting the war years’ legacy of ill health in Cambodia.

The ambitious plan, which links goals and strategies to costs and funding, boils down to six health objectives ministry strategists believe can be achieved by the end of 2007.

They include reducing the infant mortality rate from 94 to 84 deaths by 1,000 and the rate for children under 5 from 125 to 111 per 1,000; to decrease the proportion of underweight children under 5 from 45 percent to 31 percent; to reduce the number of wo­men dying in childbirth from 437 to 305 deaths per 100,000; to in­crease the use of contraception among women 15 to 49 years old by 16 percent; to bring down the HIV infection rate of people between 15 and 49 years old from 2.8 to 2.1 percent; and to reduce the number of malaria cases and fatalities by 3 percent.

One way to accomplish this is to provide Cambodians effective, high-quality care, and make them aware of it, said Prime Minister Hun Sen, who unveiled the strategic plan at a ceremony attended by diplomats, representatives of UN agencies and NGOs, and staff from the ministry’s national and provincial departments.

Health Minister Hong Sun Huot said in his speech, “The needs of deprived people in rural areas will receive special attention.”

Without specifically mentioning corruption, which observers say seriously hinders some operations in the health-care system, the plan cites “a critical need to build capacity for monitoring and evaluation at all levels.”

Mech­an­isms will be established to follow up on activities and audit expenditures.

A quality assurance office will be created to help develop a client/consumer attitude towards patients, improving service.

The plan was prepared with working groups of gov­ern­­­ment, donors, and international and national agencies.

“The consultation process was carried through the finest de­tails,” said Jean-Francois Frys, executive director of Medicam, an association of 111 member or­ganizations dealing with health issues.

“This [plan] was an enormous undertaking, and was ac­comp­lished surprisingly quickly” compared to other countries, he said.



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