The high number of workers who resign for promotions and greener pastures elsewhere – including outside of Samoa – continues to plague the Ministry of Health.
The issue is highlighted in the Ministry’s Annual Report for 2016-2017.
“The challenge is that staff leave with skills and experiences that had been gained over the years while working under respective technical areas within the Ministry,” the report reads.
“The Ministry needs to ensure that there are succession plans in place and that the process is followed through so that there is sufficient time dedicated to proper handover of duties and responsibilities.”
According to the Annual Health Report, there is minimum disruption to the services required by the Ministry and that existing staff are able to carry out functions with confidence.
“Limited workforce in relation to the scope/magnitude of work required to be implemented by the Ministry is a common aspect, particularly in Surveillance and International Health Regulations, quality assurance for all health service providers, enforcement and regulatory functions by public health staff, and so forth."
“The challenge is for the Ministry to capitalize on existing mechanisms, such as clear priorities with maximum impacts that are cost effective; interventions that are derived based on evidence so that they are more targeted; take advantage of existing partnerships."
“And relationships such as the Multi-Sectoral Approach; the Ministry is yet to fully realize its mandated function of Regulating and Monitoring particularly in the quality of health care provided by our service providers in public hospitals."
“Apart from the shortage of personnel, there is the need to strengthen capacity and capabilities of staff in the areas of quality assurance, population health through surveillance and International Health Regulations, enforcement of vast legislations and regulations in different health settings in society."
“Moreover, it has taken quite some time for the Ministry to have relevant legislations and regulations in place in order to enable the Ministry to undertake its function of regulating."
“Some examples include Tobacco Control Regulations and food regulations.”
Furthermore the report points to the genuine collaboration and partnership between all relevant stakeholders in health needs to be strengthened and visibly encouraged; Regulator/Purchaser vs Provider roles; b. Government vs private vs N.G.O.'s vs civil societies vs community; stakeholders need to take advantage of the opportunities of the existing mechanisms and to fully participate the in decision making process on all matters affecting health.
“In this way we can all assure transparency, ownership and accountability for the health of our people.”
This will also ensure the achievement of whole of Government approach.
Another challenge faced by the M.O.H. is collecting data from public hospitals and health providers due to the fragmented nature of systems currently in place.
“This adversely affects the accuracy, completeness 30 and integrity of data needed for analysis in order to inform policy makers and leaders in making informed decisions for the future of health."
“Moreover, it makes it even more difficult to be able to provide information needed for international and national indicators which are crucial in assessing a country’s health status and performance over time."
“The Ministry has commenced negotiations of the proposed e-Health project aimed to address these issues and more, but it will be some time before this system is fully realized and in operations."
“Nevertheless, it is crucial that the Ministry establishes an effective transitional system to ensure the information needed is being collected and made available for analysis and reporting on a timely basis,” says the annual report.