Interview: Pierre Dimba

How will the ministry work to strengthen the health sector in the coming years?

PIERRE DIMBA: The plan is to position Côte d’Ivoire as a leading medical destination in West Africa by 2025 and provide advanced services in specific fields such as oncology and cardiology. We also intend to improve the efficiency and performance of the entire medical system, especially second- and third-level health care establishments, through the construction and rehabilitation of university and regional hospitals, as well as specialised units. In addition, we aim to increase the accessibility and quality of medical treatment, with a particular focus on low-access areas in the implementation of continuous health care centres. To this end, we want to optimise the construction of hospitals, first-contact health centres, patient care units and maintenance units.

Our objective is to improve the performance of the health system by 2025 via the implementation of these reforms. We also aim to accelerate private health sector restructuring, improve public health finances, and implement a new accounting and financial system that ensures resource traceability. We aspire to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI) in the sector to benefit from accessible financial resources. Financing structures and the harmonisation of financing schemes for health establishments are crucial to achieving the objectives of the Strategic Purchasing and Alignment of Resources and Knowledge in Health Project, which aims to make substantial improvements to medical services and technology used in health care across the country.

To what extent can technology contribute to improving health care quality and access?

DIMBA: There are many areas that lack access to water, electricity and communication networks. New technologies such as telemedicine represent a major development that could improve the quality and accessibility of health care services in rural areas. These technologies could also enhance health services by facilitating the transfer of medical data between stakeholders and improving access to information. This will allow us to optimise the quality of treatment for patients in both rural and urban areas.

Since 2020 the administrative aspect of the health system and the dematerialisation of several administrative procedures have improved, along with the implementation of e-government services. Even though Côte d’Ivoire has made progress in international rankings like the UN E-Government Survey, we must continue our digitisation efforts. In the medium term, our objective is to promote the digital transformation of the health system and implement projects such as the Universal Health Coverage project, which is nearly 70% complete.

What steps must be taken to improve access to quality human resources in the health sector?

DIMBA: Human resources are an essential part of health care. We need to strengthen and develop capacity by establishing more training centres. It is also important to plan resource allocation to meet the needs of our population more effectively. However, as the sole provider of resources, the public sector will not be able to overcome the current gap between supply and demand alone.

The Ministry of Health, Public Hygiene and Universal Health Coverage and other ministries in charge of education need to revise legislation to open up the training network to the private sector or increase subsidies to provide additional training to health care professionals. The ongoing improvements to health care infrastructure as part of our strategic plans will also improve the working and training conditions of health care workers. This represents an essential part of our country’s ability to attract more qualified physicians and retain them over the long term.