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Tuesday, 23 August, 2011, 3:26 ( 1:26 GMT )
Health-care Reform is Needed, Extensive and a Long Process
26/06/2009 19:21:00
Prof. Elkhammas thank you for your article (Libya's Health Sector: A Surgeon's Viewpoint, The Tripoli Post, 20 June 2009) and I commented previously on Mr. Zaptia's article in which I focused on health-care being 'unique' in that it is of utmost monumental importance; as health-care is about life and death; something anyone anywhere takes very seriously.

There is no-one who wouldn't prefer to consider other options before resorting to the Libyan health-care system, this is the unfortunate reality. The question is... why? What elements attract so many Libyan health tourists to countries like Jordan and Tunisia for example? One could very much build a great long list of points and reports (like the NES/Monitor Group people did) but there is a common underlying factor that can very simply be deducted even by the common everyday citizen who is not so experienced and skilled. This common factor must be prioritized and taken into consideration at all times if anything is to improve from whatever comes about and that common factor or magical word is "reputation".

Health tourism directed out of Libya for cross-border destinations has grown over the years mainly as the result of nothing but simple local marketing spread by none other than our own natives within our own borders through word-of-mouth... and they are NOT to blame, the local health-care sector IS!

The common scenarios that are unfortunately still ongoing basically encompass medical tourists that left Libya dissatisfied and that came back with medical miracles and success stories to tell that fell on eager ears, the sad part is that most of these stories aren't all that miraculous and are just issues of basic quality. "A complicated misdiagnosis locally that was a simple piece-of-cake diagnosis elsewhere", "the patient who did not feel welcome or comfortable with the quality of services locally who was treated with utmost quality and care elsewhere" and so on and so forth.

However, the differences were recognized amongst our locals and the differences were embraced, promoted, marketed and is now in fact the normal way of seeking health-care.

No-one can say that efforts were exclusively introduced from other countries across our borders with direct local intentions to win our own patients as a part of their market segment?! This was a choice that our own patients were willing to take in consideration for the importance of their health and lives.

They were willing to grant this privilege simply to whomever they felt deserved it and when they took the risk and traveled the distances as health tourists on most occasions they weren't let down and they felt the trip was well worth it. Perhaps nowadays health tourism promotion from overseas is something that is slowly gaining a more direct local presence but then again Libyans are very entitled to that option and it is the local healthcare sector that needs to step up to standards and out perform the incoming competition.

Patients are 'people'... people that have feelings, something that many of our health-care workers to some extent have unfortunately forgotten from the bottom-up and back down to the bottom. Its really a matter of going back to square one, the Hippocratic Oath and the very basics of what makes a genuine health-care worker... is it the prestige, is it the high-potential for a high paying career overseas, OR is it... genuinely wanting to help and care for people? Some of the greatest and most highest paid health-care workers around the world dedicate a lot of their or at least some of their time to working in conditions much much worse than the our local health-care system and they do a great job: in places like the depths of Africa, SE Asia and rural South America and it is this sense of purpose that makes them great health-care workers!

The day the entire local health-care sector orients itself around noble purpose; and viewing as well as addressing its problems from the eyes of its patients is the day that things will really start to improve. This is something anyone can assure you has yet to be felt or realized locally, even through tremendous initiatives such as Monitor Group's work, etc...

I personally submitted a presentation to Monitor Group having been a medical participant of the NES program myself and I stressed on numerous occasions the importance of health-care in Libya as I sensed it was not all that much of a prioritized topic to be honest after having learned more about the program and participating with much enthusiasm. I think more focus was paid to an assessment of competitiveness and clusters than to critical social sectors like health-care & education.

In fact I'm very delighted and surprised to have read in your article that a 312 page report was composed and presented by other medical participants with regards to health-care strategy. I am not surprised however that this wasn't shared openly by those participants with others much like myself?

This is another issue at hand that I take no shame in mentioning in that there is an obvious unwillingness for "team-work" particularly amongst the so called 'modernists' who surprisingly are highly qualified and skilled individuals but not enough to realize how much potential there really could be if only they were humble enough in character to team-up and genuinely want to work together...

"The Strategic Planning for the Health Sector in Libya" is not a topic that requires a 312 page document at this stage. More smaller-scale efforts such as this article, previous ones before it and similar efforts that arouse awareness, offer a forum for exchanging ideas and that bring like minded people together to my opinion is a much more effective step in potentially achieving more concrete results.

As for health-care reform is concerned it is an extensive and long process that must be initiated as soon as possible and that requires great state involvement, great health-care leadership, great health-care management, great health-care workers, great health care quality indicators and performance levels, great health-care educators, great health-care students working hand-in-hand and marching side-by-side with a clear vision of what is expected of them on a short term, mid term and long term basis.

There is no reason in the world why we should not be able to remedy the long ailing patient that is our health-care system and I personally hope that it will be back on its feet in no-time...

T_omar79 [at] yahoo.com
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