The Association Beninoise pour le Marketing Social, an affiliate of PSI in Benin, took time to speak with Benin’s Minister of Health, Prof. Dorothée K. Gazard for their FoQus newsletter. In the discussion, Prof. Gazard shares her vision for moving Family and Reproductive health forward in Benin.
FoQus : After six months at the helm of the Ministry of Health, what can be learned from the actions you have taken?
Prof. GAZARD: I would first like to thank you for the honor you have bestowed upon me to express myself in your magazine on issues related to people’s health in our country. It is always a pleasure to respond to your questions, because it is an exercise that informs your readers concerning key issues relating to the health system of our country. The health sector is a sensitive area that deserves special attention. Since I took of the head of the Ministry of Health, the actions we have taken can be summarized in three points:
1) The first thing I proceeded to do is to analyze the existing situation. It was important to know the state of the system and measure the extent of challenges. In this context:
- I conducted a series of scheduled or unannounced visits to health facilities both public, private, faith-based along with other organizations (such as fire departments) involved in the health system of our country;
- I met health facility directors on all levels of the health pyramid in Natitingou during the Independence Day celebration.
2) As I took over as the Director of the Ministry we instigated the following actions:
- The building of a new team.
- The orienting of new workers to teamwork and the vision of the Head of State in the health sector. This was achieved by organizing a two-day workshop on the subject.
- The immediate resumption of dialogue with social partners, including the implementation of the sectoral committee for social dialogue and periodic meetings conducted with social partners to maintain a strong relationship.
- The resumption of contact with the technical and financial partners, including the reinstatement of quarterly meetings with all contributors to national health. The first day of work with the PTF and the Ministry of Health was recently held in Ouidah, November 3, 2011.
- Meeting with the media during a press dinner at which the Head of State shared his vision concerning public health.
3) The main reforms:
These reforms are just variations of the President of the Republic’s vision for national health. One of the greatest reforms already executed is
~The presidential initiative for free malaria treatments for pregnant women and children under five years.
Further reforms are about to be initiated. They are as follows:
- Universal Health Insurance Plan (UHIP).
- The extension of free caesarean sections for obstetric emergencies such as hemorrhaging and complications due to respiratory diseases in birthing.