The Ministry of Health Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding according to press reports with a host of development partners aimed at identifying priority areas that can be funded by the latter.
This new government donor partnership will be guided by the Sector Wide Approach- SWAP which seeks to reach consensus between the government and the development partners on areas to be financed by the latter.
This is a paradigm shift in as far as funding of programs by development partners including but not limited to the health sector is concerned.
It is apparent that the government through the ministry of health will be able to identify priority areas which can be financed.
This is a departure from the old system where by it was always exclusively the development partner to determine which area to finance.
This clearly now spells out the fact that the buck stops at the doorstep of the different government bodies that will undertake the projects.
Apparently this will create a situation of local ownership of health projects and interventions although the development partners will be putting in their own funds. Local ownership in this columns view point is paramount for the success of any health intervention in any community.
More still the new effort directed towards the health sector by implication will factor into the wider national development priorities and ambitions as contained in the EDPRS-Rwanda’s Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy.
This is on the basis of the fact that it has been proved that the health of a nation largely impacts on a country’s economic performance.
This emanates from the school of thought that sees human resources as the most important resource of a country.
It is human resources rather than raw materials that initiate and sustain development of any given society. The resultant development again leads to improved health care for a country’s citizens.
And for any human resource to be productive it must as a pre requisite enjoy good health and be free from disease among other pestilences like ignorance.
A healthy population will without doubt given other determining factors foster social and economic development of a country.
The local ownership and consequently accountability for the different development programs health included their in will give a local face to health programs that were in the past seen as the work of missionaries.
Whereas the great efforts of the different stakeholders remain paramount and very importance, involvement of communities and individuals (consumers) is the ultimate point in the road towards universal health.
Studies in the demography of communities in relation to health have indicated that issues like mortality, morbidity, nutritional status and fertility are determined by many more factors than health services.
The most important have been identified among others have been identified to include income and education levels, the environment in which one lives and accessibility to safe and clean water, good and safe housing.
Community and individual practices in relation to such factors as nutrition, sanitation, reproduction and alcohol or tobacco use impact so much on all health programs and interventions.
Communities and individuals are better positioned to know the cause and course of diseases and as such must be involved right from the beginning in looking for solutions to health issues.
What is commendable in this new health partnership is the harmonization of activities by the different players as said by the health minister Jean Damascene Ntakuliryayo.
Most health systems always have a multiplicity of actors and not so obvious outcomes. Even more so the multiplicity of players in providing health services creates conflict of interest and priorities which lead to paralysis and contradictions.
The global AIDS industry has served to highlight how different players with different approaches and philosophies to a single problem can complicate the entire business of solving the fore mentioned problem.
As some conservatives and religious zealots advocate abstinence others advocate for condom use and faith fullness thus sending conflicting messages.
The viable way is that whereas government is going to play a leading role it definitely must put the consumers of health at the fore front. Interactions between health consumers and providers help to get to the root of the problem, as the providers take the position of experts; consumers take the role of giving information concerning their own health problem thus easing the entire process.