The Ministry of Health and Social Services on Monday hosted its first ever National Health Assembly, a platform that will deliberate on health matters affecting Namibia.
The inaugural National Health Assembly coincided with the launch of the health ministry’s strategic plan 2017-2018 – 2021-2022. The event was attended by various stakeholders in the health sector.
The Health Minister, Dr Bernard Haufiku said at that occasion that Namibia will not be able to achieve international health targets such as Universal Health Coverage (UHC) without a health assembly.
UHC means all the people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective while also ensuring that the use of the services does not expose the user to financial hardship.
The meeting was unable to reach consensus on how often the National Health Assembly would convene nor was it agreed on the specific terms of reference.
However, it was agreed the National Health Assembly is crucial for Namibia, if utilised to its full potential.
Haufiku explained the National Health Assembly could look at all health issues affecting the country “out of which we device a way forward”.
“The National Health Assembly is long overdue. There are a lot of health issues (in the country) and we do not always come together to talk about these issues,” Haufiku informed the inaugural assembly.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses said the forum gives the various stakeholders in the health sector a “very good opportunity” on implementing the Ministry of Health and Social Services’ newly launched strategic plan.
This would ensure mutual accountable, said Sagoe-Moses.
“For this inaugural assembly, it was important to see how the strategic plan speaks to UHC because of the Namibian government’s commitment at national and international level (to UHC). We need to focus on this plan and it needs to guide us moving forward. We need to do this consistently,” said Sagoe-Moses.
The key focus areas of the strategic plan include people’s well-being. This means that the health ministry would have to rigorously address non-communicable diseases as well as communicable diseases, including emerging ones, said Haufiku during the launch of the strategic plan.
Non-communicable diseases which are also known as chronic diseases tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behaviour factors, while communicable diseases are spread from person to person.
The spread or transfer can happen through the air, through contact with contaminated surfaces or through direct contact with blood, feces or other bodily fluids. The other focus area of the strategic plan is operational excellence, where the health ministry ensures that it provides efficient and effective health services, proper coordination to avoid duplication of efforts and resources as well as ensuring that essential medical technologies and medicines are available.
Also, another key focus area of the strategic plan is talent management.
“This pillar helps the ministry to ensure that there are adequate and competent human resources to provide quality health services,” said Haufiku.