A Ministry for Public Health!
Kurdishaspect.com - By Dr. Goran Zangana
During a few hours visit to the Ministry of Health of Kurdistan Regional Government, I was introduced to a crippling problem that plagues the work of the ministry and prevent it from fulfilling its mandates effectively. While I was waiting for a paper of mine to be signed by the Minister, a poor family with a 7 month kid who had bilateral phocomelia (Absent Arms above the elbow) was waiting to see him and beg for help for their toddler. My paper was signed and many others were as well while the heartbroken family couldn't have the chance to meet the busy minister and went back empty handed to the misery of abandonment.
The Ministry of Health has been extremely busy with a host of bureaucratic procedures that have no direct impact on health outcomes of Kurdistan Region. The Minister himself and his staff are engaged with activities that can be done by any directorate of health in Kurdistan, while they neglected the more urgent priorities of preventing illness and promoting health.
Throughout its 16 plus years of service, the Ministry of Health failed to accomplish the very basic tasks of any Ministry of health. It couldn't establish a robust surveillance system that could be endowed with the human and technological capacities to collect, analyze and utilize data about the indicators of health in Kurdistan. We still are ignorant about the incidence and prevalence of a range of crippling health conditions in Kurdistan. We don't know how many cases of Cholera do exist each year, how many infant die, how many mothers pass away during labor and what is the expected life expectancy at birth.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Health neglected a host of determinants of health that are extremely crucial for the well being and health of individuals and populations. The only part of the definition of health that the ministry paying attention to is physical health. It completely neglected the other social and mental aspects of health. The ministry failed to have at least a task force for mental health in Kurdistan, this if we forget talking about a mental health act that is so important given the disastrous mental health consequences of the suffering of the Kurdish people.
To partly fix all these disastrous plaguing of the Mini sty and the health care system in general, the Ministry of Health has to change. As part of the decentralization policies that should characterize every federal state, the Ministry of Health needs to be decentralized as well. It should give up doing some of the works that any administrative institution can do. For example employing doctors, medical staff and other health care related personnel can be done by the Directorates of Health. This would mean that even the name of the Ministry change to the Ministry of Public Health.
The new Kurdistan Parliament and Kurdistan Regional Government has to take this matter seriously. Time is long overdue to overhaul the Ministry of Health and look for more effective and efficient alternatives to the immensely disastrous status qua of the current Ministry.