A study entitled “Professionalism in the Palestinian Public Health Sector” called for restructuring the health insurance system as to become more transparent in the services it provides.
The study which was produced by two Palestinian researchers contracted by AMAN; Mr. Yasser Shalabi and Mr. Hassan Ladadwa and presented at a workshop organized by AMAN Coalition stressed the importance of creating a professional working atmosphere at public health institutions as deterrence for corruption in the sector. It also called for conducting a comprehensive training program that would upgrade the sector’s employees in complying with the norms and procedures set for the work.
Dr. Azmi Shuaibi, AMAN’s General Coordinator, said that this study comes as part of AMAN’s strategy that aims at raising the level of transparency in the work of public services providers. He pointed that the Palestinian citizen is the focal point in this study. He said that it is the people who delegate politicians their power through the election process and it is the people that pay for these services through taxes stressing that many studies have shown that the Palestinian citizen is the basic contributor to the general budget despite all foreign donations.
He also pointed that the compulsory insurance system constitutes the major part of the expenditures of the Ministry of Health. Therefore, we should focus on the level of health services provided to the public.
The study revealed four basic factors that contribute to the spread of corruption in the health sector; the structure of health insurance system, weaknesses in transparency and accountability of the system, the public’s misconceptions, and the scarcity of resources.
The study constitutes an assessment of the work of the Ministry of Health and its services in terms of transparency and accountability to the laws and regulations of the system. The study also assessed the compliance of the Ministry in providing timely and objective information to the public and not just issuing reports on the Ministry’s accomplishments.
The forms of corruption perceived by the study in this sector are mainly nepotism and wasta.
On its part the Ministry of Health claimed that the study did not take into account the general atmosphere in which the Ministry operates nowadays specially the lack of immunity for its employees in a state of insecurity and infighting. Further, it stated that the level of services provided is previously agreed upon with the World Health Organization and the World Bank the fact that obligates the Ministry to abide with certain standards. As for medical suppliers, the Ministry pointed that purchasing tenders are processed by the Ministry of Finance which currently suffers from a big fiscal deficit that directly affects the level of services provided to the public.
Participants in the workshop stressed the importance of applying transparency measures in the work of the Ministry particularly they called for the Ministry’s compliance with the freedom of information act.
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