HEALTH Minister ‘Molotsi Monyamane has called for a paradigm shift in the approaches used to fight the prevalence of diseases and other challenges bedeviling the sector.
Dr Monyamane made the remarks during the 15th Annual Joint Review (AJR) meeting held yesterday at the ministry’s auditorium in Maseru. The review was meant to monitor, measure and evaluate the health sector’s performance in the 2014-2015 year, and was attended by various stakeholders and development partners.
The minister said such meetings allowed the exchange of views on different aspects of health service delivery to ensure the attainment of set objectives. He noted that the AJR report had revealed that the sector made significant achievements on some indicators, while in others it remained static or even declined.
“It is gratifying to note that the Ministry had been able to achieve some gains with regards to the fight against HIV and AIDS,” Dr Monyamane said. “There has also been a noticeable increase on the proportion of women who tested for HIV during pregnancy. The implementation of VMMC (voluntary medical male circumcision) has been a tremendous success.”
The AJR report, he further noted, also revealed an increase in women receiving antenatal care (ANC) although they tended to decrease in the subsequent visits.
“It is reported that 21 percent of the new ANC clients come during their first trimester, as the health sector we have to join hands to make sure that the number increases through the primary health care initiatives,” said Dr Monyamane.
He added that Lesotho continued to face the challenge of retaining human resources, which was also common in the SADC region.
“It is of concern that only 55 percent of established positions were filled whiles the disease burden of HIV and AIDS exacerbates the strain on the health workers,” the minister said.
“The situation calls for re-thinking of some of our approaches to how service delivery is undertaken. I am concerned that HIV continues to be a challenge despite the amount of resources that are injected towards interventions that are supposed to halt the diseases.
“I challenge you all therefore to engage more vigorously to come up with robust approaches that will help us to achieve more with the resources at our disposal.”
He also implored the development partners to apply more effort in assisting the health sector.
“It is only through their willingness to cooperate and collaborate that the Ministry will succeed to harmonise and maximise resources at its disposal,” said Dr Monyamane.
“Let us together focus on ensuring that the sector wide approach that we are reviving is implemented effectively.”
In her remarks, Ministry of Health Acting PS ’Mamoruti Tiheli said the AJR was meant to assess the extent and quality of health services at all levels and analyse the extent to which the implementation of the 2014/15 operational plan contributed to the achievement in the set annual targets.
She also said that it would review the extent to which community structures were involved in the health sector and their level of their commitment.
“The current structure of the Ministry of Health is not responding to the sector’s needs, the establishment list is out-dated and has weak accountability at all levels,” said Ms Tiheli.
“The plan is to review the current structure before the end of 2015/16 financial year and implement performance contracts at all levels by 2016/17 financial year.”
She also revealed that they would work to establish the Maseru district hospital and strengthen the referral system at all levels.