The Business Year

Nazira Abdula

MOZAMBIQUE - Health & Education

The Right Model

Minister, Health of the Government of Mozambique

Bio

A pediatrician by profession, Nazira Abdula graduated from Maputo Central Hospital with complementary stages in the Hospital Sío Joío do Porto in Portugal. Abula earned a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietition from the University of Flinders, Australia, in 2006. She worked as a general practitioner at Medical Mavalane General Hospital from 1993 to 1997 and was involved in the program to combat malaria in the Mavalane area. During the cholera epidemic of 1997 she led the cholera infirmary of Maputo Central Hospital. She has taught at the Catholic University of Mozambique, and in the Health Sciences Institute of Maputo and Beira. Having been Deputy Minister of Health from 2010 to 2014 in the previous administration, Abdula was appointed Minister of Health in January 2015.

TBY talks to Nazira Abdula, Minister of Health of the Government of Mozambique, on the future of healthcare and the effectiveness of PPPs in developing it.

What are the Ministry’s priorities for the next five years?

Our fundamental objectives are to facilitate and broaden the citizen’s access to public health services, to reduce waiting times, and to develop the quality of service. We will also be better equipping the healthcare institutions and broadening their scope of operation, as well as providing improved working conditions for SNS officials. Meanwhile, the management of healthcare facilities will be rendered more efficient, with an emphasis on prophylactic measures of treatment in order to promote community health.

How would you characterize the importance of public-private partnerships in Mozambique’s health industry?

A PPP is an instrument of vital importance to strengthen intervention of the sector for the health benefit of the entire Mozambican population. The action of the State in the promotion of healthcare in communities is based upon the assumption that a healthier population is a determining factor in national development, as well as being more productive and aware of its civic responsibilities. Building on the last point, it is crucial that the public sector, as well as the private sector and the civil society, can contribute, each one of them in its own way, to the vitality of the national health, contributing in this way to the common objective to develop human capital and add to the people’s empowerment. My view is that the PPP model has worked successfully in the health sector, and we realize that there is still much potential to be explored to bolster the existing partnership for a greater level of complementarity, cooperation, and synergy. This can only benefit all stakeholders, in particular with the population dependent on the Mozambican public health system.

What is your strategy for attracting national and foreign investment to the health sector?

In the first place, we recognize that the right to healthcare is enshrined in the constitution. Secondly, I would stress that the country has policies and a healthcare strategy in place that underpin the strategic objectives, priorities, and relevant actions to promote the health of all citizens. Consequently, the necessary resources must be provided to meet the task of improving public health. In doing this we recognize that we lack the resources to undertake this responsibility alone, whereby cooperation among the private sector, civil society, and relevant cooperation partners, makes the vital difference. In formulating public policies the Ministry is working to rationalize its resources, and deploy them transparently and effectively. And in so doing we aim to supply those services of most pressing need for the general public.

What emphasis do you place on R&D?

Naturally enough, the Ministry’s activities, and my mandate specifically, rest on the pillars of science, technology, and innovation. We believe that fundamental decisions on the future of Mozambique’s healthcare cannot be made without the contribution of universities and research centers. We will continue to bolster the connection between science and technology, and the concrete reality of the day-to-day life in the healthcare arena. Universities and centers of knowledge are key to securing cost-effective solutions. We intend to strengthen the partnerships with institutions engaged in health-related research in the SADC region, and the wider world; we have had had successful experiences in doing so. A case in point is our vital research into malaria. Once again, the role of private and civil institutions in that domain can bring added value, as well as expede the decision-making process and provide creative responses to market signals.

How will you address the shortage of health industry professionals in the country?

Mozambique’s health sector today is far better equipped and staffed than it was 25 years ago. Our government is training staff, both medical and technical, who are contributing to broaden the citizen’s access to vital health services. These healthcare workers have a diversity of experience ranging from the private sector to NGOs. Another key component to underline is the improvement in the working conditions of healthcare professionals, and the provision of other benefits to these essential workers. The government is currently working to implement the Medical Statutes that guarantee working conditions that motivate all of our staff within the National Healthcare System.

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