Parliament approves health sector merger Bill

The National Health Service Amendment Bill 2018 was approved in final reading in Parliament yesterday. 

This is the first phase of the merger of the National Health Service (N.H.S.) and the Ministry of Health (M.O.H.). 

Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, pointed out the N.H.S. and M.O.H. was separated in 2006 and the cause of their separation is also the reason for their merger now. 

He also applauded the merge Bill because it states the selection of the hospital board will be decided by Cabinet.  

“We should look at appointing board members who have background in medicine because currently most of the board members are people who showed support during the general election.” 

Minister for Public Enterprises, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, interjected noting there is an independent selection committee who reviews the applications and then hands over the recommendations to the Minister and it’s the Minister who makes the recommendations to Cabinet for final approval. 

Olo Fiti cautioned that the health of the public is pertinent and when the wrong people are appointed to the board, this will only create problems for the hospital. 

M.P. Faumuina Wayne Fong also commended the National Health Kidney Foundation for their work. 

“We also have many volunteers from other islands and hopefully the merge will not have a bearing on the volunteers in any way. 

“The merge will increase the work force housed under one management team, I would suggest to have a C.E.O. and Deputy C.E.O. to assist with the A.C.E.O’s. 

“My only hope is that by this merge the service will be improved,” said Faumuina. 

Last week, Tuitama assured the Samoa Observer that the merger will lead to better primary health care services and will also sharpen the focus and finances on services as opposed to the current situation where the “total expenditure for health is about 80 percent personnel and 20 percent on services”. 

He said the restructure should strengthen the ability for health professionals to provide improved health care services. 

The Minister acknowledged the move to separate the two entities  12 years ago was justified, according to the advice from experts at the time, who thought that a separation could improve the services.  

However, during the past decade, the reviews that have been conducted showed clearly the separation was not achieving the goals they had envisioned.  

One of the main concerns was that there was no cohesion or collaboration between the M.O.H. and N.H. S. 

According to Tuitama, the analysis from the reviews revealed that there’s a very noticeable absence of community health correlating with a rise in non- communicable diseases (N.C.D.s) 

“Primary health care has suffered a lot; public health has suffered a great deal. There was almost none in existence.  

“The Government’s concern at the moment, like all other countries, is focused on the increasing N.C.D.s and according to expert advice (such as W.H.O. and all other health institutions),  the only way to combat the N.C.D.s like hypertension, heart disease, cancer, diabetes is not treating the complications of the diseases but preventing the occurrence of these diseases. 

“We want to go back to improve the community facilities.” 

In his view, the merge is the only way to prevent the increase of complications due to N.C.D.s which has risen exponentially in the past five years.  

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