Botswana need to re-look at the health plan currently offered to its citizens in order to address and offer convenient and efficient health services.
Speaking at Health in All Policies (HiAP) Pitso in Gaborone on Wednesday, Dr Edward Maganu a retired University of Botswana lecturer who is now a health consultant, said there is need for quality health to be available and assured to all, and says if at all this is to be achieved then other avenues should be available for those seeking health services even in private hospitals. “ A prepayment system could come in handy, currently those without medical aids are requested to pay cash and I think it such kind of system that promote poverty,” he said.
Dr Maganu highlighted that disease patterns in Botswana shows that there is a high influence of social determinants. According to Maganu unlike in developed countries where the battle is now predominatly on non-communicable diseases, developing countries like Botswana still battles with communicable diseases while non-communicable diseases are also proving to be increasing at a much faster pace. “Developing countries have a double burden of dealing with both,” Maganu said.
Because social determinants cannot be addressed by the health ministry alone, Dr Maganu was of the view that government ministries and other stakeholders needed to work collectively to address the problem. Laws and regulations need to be put in place but more importantly he says how the are implemented should be the main focus to ensure practicality and efficiency.
The Ministry of Health will embark on a national plan to bring on board other government ministries and departments in addressing health issues. Simply termed Health in All Policies (HiAP), the system an approach that “systematically takes into account the health implications of decisions on health, seeks synergies, and avoids harmful health impacts in order to improve population health and health equity.
According to experts who attended the first ever HiAP Pitso in Gaborone on Wednesday an approach that will address social determinants of health in Botswana, which according to research had been found to be the key drivers of health outcomes and implications.
Giving a a keynote address on behalf of the Deputy Permanent Secretary – Public Health Services Shenaaz Al-Halabi, Dr Haruna Jibril said the environmental, economic and social changes as well as demographic and epidemiologic transitions experienced in recent years highlight the need to address the accompanying health challenges. Dr Jibril said these can only be effectively tackled through multidisciplinary and multisectoral actions as HiAP. “This is so simply because the factors that make or break health lie outside the health sector. They are outcomes of decisions and choices made by other sectors as they carry out their mandates to develop the economy and citizens of this country,” he said.
Health in all Policies, he said , focuses on the role that governments play in achieving population health and equity and provides a mechanism and practical tools to enable authorities and politicians to understand health impacts of their action and ensure accountability for the health and equity consequences of their public policy decisions. “We in the health sector have been concerned that quite often, the costs of other sectors not taking health into account have been high; resulting of course in an avoidable and unnecessarily high national health Bill,” he said.