Viewpoint: Mokhtar Hasbellaoui
Since its independence Algeria has experienced significant socio-economic development. Efforts in the health sector led to an increase in life expectancy, rising to 77 years in 2016 from 50 in 1962. Several projects in 2017 mobilised the country in terms of demographic evolution and societal dynamism, including making accessible specialised treatment in nephrology such as transplantation for patients with renal impairment.
The People’s National Assembly has engaged in debates surrounding the issuance of a new law that could result in hospital reform and the establishment of a dedicated framework. The new law will aim to organise the national health system to better meet the health care needs of its citizens, looking at both prevention and specialised treatments. Moreover, innovative mechanisms will enhance financial structures and modernise management of medical practices through evaluations. For example, establishment of the National Agency for Organs and Tissues Transplant has prepared health care specialists and enhanced Algerian transplantation capacities, and the employment of the dialysis renal impairment register will allow for better management of kidney transplantation. Furthermore, significant effort has been made in the way of treatment for cardiovascular illnesses. In Algeria treatments are readily available in its bigger cities, but more needs to be done to widen access to health services across the whole country, such as rolling out mobile treatment units to places that need them.
Looking ahead, our ministry is happy to talk with potential investors about developing health care throughout regional areas, focusing on establishing general practitioners as the first point of contact. In terms of increasing special care capacities, in 2017 we worked on modernising existing technical equipment. Moreover, two new hospitals dedicated to cardiovascular care are being built in Algiers and Annaba. This is in addition to the new building that is already up and running in Draâ Ben Khedda in the Tizi Ouzou Province.
The first one is focused on pregnancy care management and will be reorganised around a network of dedicated centres established in every wilaya ( province). These centres offer a complete scope of health care services, and regulatory measures have been set to ensure that every woman is registered in the system by her doctor from three months of pregnancy onwards. This allows for better follow-up and childbirth management. The project will be integrated into the recently standardised national health system that aims to better allocate human and material resources. In the short term the second project involves rolling out a new pharmaceutical policy. Its goals are to stimulate local production of pharmaceutical drugs, promote generic drug prescription, standardise therapeutic protocols and meet local demand by ensuring that importers uphold their safety responsibilities.
We have also progressed in the area of medically assisted reproduction (MAR), underpinned by the belief that financial constraints should not be a factor in preventing people access to health care. Today, there are 16 functional private centres specialising in MAR, with eight others currently in construction. Within the public sector we reopened the MAR units in the Parnet (Nefissa Hamoud) and Oran Hospitals. Finally, we are working on introducing a department for mental health among the ministry’s organisational chart.
By 2030, the target year for the Sustainable Development Goals programme, our population will grow from 41.7m to over 51m. In light of this, our main objective is to enhance family planning. The percentage of married women between ages 15-49 that aren’t familiar with any type of contraception dropped from 74% in 1968 to zero in more recent times. Nowadays, contraception is used by 57% of married couples compared to only 8% in 1970. These advances, in addition to a permanent upgrade of our data and statistic systems, will enable proper management of the balance between demographic growth and virtuous economic development.
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