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Moroccan Head of Government Promises Public Health Care Reform

Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani has promised to work towards resolving major issues within the Moroccan public health sector, including expanding access for millions of Moroccans. Rabat – For Morocco’s 35 million citizens, healthcare can be broken down to two options. The first option is private healthcare and its bankrupting expenses; and the second, governmental public healthcare and its poor standard of care.

The Moroccan Constitution promises citizens the right to healthcare; however, when over 40 percent of the country’s population lives in rural areas, this access is often difficult, sometimes impossible, to put into practice. Corruption within public hospitals and medical facilities is commonplace, with the right to health and life being put up for sale at a price set by doctors or nurses willing to accept bribes. When care can be accessed, patients often struggle to afford the expenses associated with it, driving families into poverty and dissuading the injured and sick from seeking medical help. However, speaking during a parliamentary hearing session on Tuesday, Moroccan Head of Government vowed to improve the health sector, primarily through reform of the system’s governance. During his speech, Othmani emphasized his government’s existing focus on the health sector, pointing out that the administration had already raised the public health sector’s budget to $1.6 billion, up 16 percent from 2016. Othmani also argued that expanding health care coverage was the most important approach to reforming the health sector, saying that health coverage had already been increased to 60 percent from less than 47 percent in 2017. To remedy other existing issues within the health sector, Othmani announced that the government had developed a plan to drastically reform healthcare in 2025.

The plan will follow a roadmap centered on improving the health sector in six stages: quality of services, equal access to these services, solidarity and interdependence, continuity and proximity, performance and efficiency, then responsibility and accountability. Unrest within the public health sector: Recently, unrest within the public health sector has also seen a new wave of growth, with nurses and doctors staging strikes and demonstrations in response to unfair working conditions and poor industry standards. These strikes have had a profound influence on the workings of an already dysfunctional public health sector, especially due to Morocco’s pressing shortage of doctors and medical staff. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that a country have 13 doctors per 18,000 people. Meanwhile, in Morocco, there are only 3.5 doctors in both the public and private sectors per 18,000.

This crisis has only deepened following the resignation of over 400 doctors last month after the government failed to meet protestors’ demands for improved working conditions and adequate medical equipment in public hospitals. Following the wave of resignations, the Independent Syndicate of Public Sector Doctors (SIMSP) threatened that more resignations would follow unless “the government does not respond to our demands, namely improving the working conditions in hospitals and providing the necessary equipment and an adequate number of personnel.” Health professionals have announced another strike to take place from June 10-14, which threatens to severely disrupt the functioning of public medical facilities unless the Moroccan government complies with demonstrator’s requests.

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