Taking pride in the health service


17-June-2013

A World Bank expert concurs: “Seychelles has one of the best health systems in the developing world.” He added that “many countries envy what Seychelles has and what it has been able to do with what it has”.

“It is only when you have succeeded in raising standards and standards are reasonably high that service-users appreciate the value of high standards of care and demand even higher standards from you!,” says a local health expert.

“The past 20 years have been characterised by rapid specialisation, privatisation and expansion of the health sector,” said Health Minister Mitcy Larue.
To illustrate the extent of specialisation in the health sector, the health minister outlined the exponential increase in the number of Seychellois specialist doctors, nurses, technologists and many others at Seychelles Hospital.

“Twenty years ago, there were only one or two Seychellois specialists in the public health service,” she said. “Today, most of the Seychellois doctors are specialists. We now have native Seychellois specialists in the fields of radiology, gynecology, otorhinolaryngology, general surgery, pediatrics, emergency medicine, anesthesia, urology, psychiatry, ophthalmology, family medicine, maxillo-facial surgery etc!” 

Given the time it takes to train a medical specialist, this is exceptional progress, in just 20 years.

“We will continue to improve the terms and conditions of service of all our professionals in the health sector,” pledged the health minister. “And we will strengthen our retention strategy!”
Expansion and specialisation have also been evident in the fields of diagnostics and secondary and tertiary care.

“We have invested in most of the equipment we need,” said Minister Larue.  “The high-tech equipment is there and is working fine!”
Words like haemodialysis, mammography, magnetic resonance imaging (IMR), CT-Scan are now routinely evoked by the public. Twenty years ago, they were distant dreams of only some select health professionals.

In spite of the advances in medical technology, the health minister argued that the priority of the health sector is not to cure diseases but to prevent them. She stressed that her ministry attaches huge importance to primary health care and to all the health promotion programmes in the districts.

Today, only two years before 2015, the year in which the world will take stock of the achievements towards attainment of the eight Millennium Development Goals, even in Seychelles there is concern about the high and rising cost of health care.

Many wonder how sustainable the health care system is, given the current level of expenses and the current gaps in care quality. Many see even greater potential for the private health sector to expand further as there is clear evidence of the willingness of the public to pay for their private health care, as long as that private care is of good quality. 

“The Ministry of Health is well-placed to facilitate and to properly regulate the expansion in private health care,” said Minister Larue. “We want to give people more choices!”

Minister Larue also underscored Seychelles’ heavy burden of non-communicable diseases and the strategies that her government has painstakingly put in place to effectively address them. She cited the focus on regular exercise, good nutrition and reduction of substance abuses that should form the basis of all initiatives to reduce non-communicable diseases. She evoked how certain communicable diseases like hepatitis C and sexually transmitted diseases loom menacingly over the nation’s head like the Sword of Damocles.

“Diseases having the heaviest toll on our population and our budget are all related to lifestyles,” said the health minister.

“Hence, every individual, family and community must be conscious that their health is, first and foremost, their own responsibility,” she said. “If people take good care of their lifestyles, our professionals will be able to take even better care of them!”

There are signs that the Seychelles health sector is gearing up for better things to come.

“In the next five years, we will concentrate on improving care quality,” said Minister Larue. “We will bring more specialist services even closer to where people live, work and play.  We will give people more value for their tax money! We will pay special attention to Praslin and La Digue. Patients and staff will take even greater pride in their health service!”

The accompanying photos show some of the progress our health system has recorded over the past three decades.

 

 

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