The report stresses the concerning state of public health in Morocco, as well as the extremely limited resources available to tackle the enormous challenges.
Rabat – A new report by Morocco’s health ministry has unveiled the dire prospects of the country’s health sector, with projections from the ministry vastly inferior to what the sector actually needs to effectively operate.
In a holistic appraisal of Morocco’s persisting public health issues, presented earlier this month as part of his department’s plans for the 2020 fiscal year, the new Minister for Health, Khalid Ait Taleb, painted a rather grim picture of the sector. Among the many concerns stressed in the report is the marked lack of hospital personnel and equipment.
The figures Taleb presented spoke of a worrying deficit in medical personnel, with Morocco’s deficit in personnel said to be standing at 97,161 (32,387 medical doctors and 64,774 nurses and other medical practitioners).
To solve this “concerning” deficit, a reasonable policy would be to recruit 62,000 new employees (12,000 doctors and 50,000 nurses and medical technicians), the report found. However, because of budgetary constraints, the ministry’s total budget for the 2020 fiscal year being MAD 18.68 billion, the ministry plans to recruit only 4,000 new employees.
While Taleb acknowledged that that number is not even close to the efforts needed to tackle his sector’s persisting issues, he suggested that additional steps will be taken to incrementally address the country’s public health concerns. The goal in the short and medium terms, he argued, is to find ways of “attenuating”—rather than definitely eliminating—the personnel and equipment deficits ailing Morocco’s health sector.
As part of its efforts to improve the sector, the ministry seeks to “optimally” use its limited budget. On the equipment front, next year will see the start of construction projects for 28 new hospitals across the kingdom, especially in regions—mostly rural, remote areas—where the medical shortage has been more acutely felt.
Also on the agenda are investments in maintenance, extension and renovation works in places—like Rabat and Oujda—where the existing equipment (mostly including hospital beds) do not even come close to meeting the minimum requirements for the number of patients in these regions.
Another important project in the ministry’s projections is the upgrading or modernization of emergency services at hospitals across the kingdom. This will include, among other projects, the extension of parking areas at hospitals, the rehabilitation of emergency medical services in the Souss-Massa and Laayoune-Sakia El Hamra regions.
While the ministry’s budget for next year is set to increase by 14.5%, compared to its budget this year, the department’s numerous challenges suggest the budget can only solve about a quarter of the concerns.
In addition, employee’s wages and maintenance constraints mean that only a very limited portion of the ministry’s already insufficient budget can be allocated to investments in capacity building, renovation, or construction.
Namely, the ministry estimates that only MAD 3.35 billion of its more than MAD 18 billion budget will go into investments. The bulk—all the remaining 15.33 billion will be used as working or operational budget, including more 10.9 billion for wages.
In terms of human resources, the ministry plans on a bit of an outside-the-box thinking to meet Moroccan citizens’ demands in medical personnel.
As its own projected personnel increase will still not be enough to considerably address the country’s medical personnel and equipment shortages, the ministry suggested it is ready to enter into “contractual relations” with doctors from the private sector and “external expertise” or foreign investors, who will be “encouraged” to invest and work in Morocco’s health sector.