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The healthcare problem: a matter of quality and dignity

Jul 26,2018 - Last updated at Jul 26,2018

We do not have a health insurance problem in Jordan. The majority of population, both citizens and their guests, are covered by some kind of medical insurance system. If you watch Michael Moore's 2007 documentary, “Sicko”, Jordan would sound as a healthcare haven in comparison with America. 

According to the 2015 census, more than 68 per cent of Jordanians and 55 per cent of population were covered and the percentage is certainly higher than that now, after citizens above 60 have been included under the national health insurance umbrella.  And for Jordanians who are still uncovered, the Royal Court takes care of their bills. We are doing fine.

However, the devil lurks in the details. Especially in Amman and major cities, where the majority dwells, the existing medical facilities cannot cope with increasing numbers of medical services' seekers. A visit to the outpatient department at Al Bashir Hospital would easily put you face to face with the ugly reality: long lines of people in every corner of the place; the pharmacy, the labs, the doctor's offices, X-ray units, everywhere, let alone the inhumane treatment by some employees there. People have to wait for months for certain procedures, such as MRI scans, unless, let us admit it, they have wasta to get earlier appoitments.

This situation prompts middle-class people to seek private hospitals to receive better-quality services, and, of course, pay fortunes in return. 

In other areas, there is a shortage in physicians and other medical staff. It was reported this week that a urologist in Madaba was transferred to Amman's Prince Hamzah Hospital, which is struggling under a huge pressure of demand. The good doctor, still needed by his Madaba patients, decided to dedicate his day-off to serve these people, spending the day in examining part of them, and the evening operating on others. 

A plan has been announced that a major hospital would be built in Amman, God knows when, but the government cannot address the problem alone. In Jordan, we have more than 8,000 mosques, mostly built by donations from the faithful and the rich. We need a campaign and sincere efforts to change the mentality that public services are the concern of the government alone. Besides, a hospital, under the circumstances, is more needed than a mosque. The Iftaa Department will confirm that. 

There are charity hospitals already, and plans for others are on the drawing board, including one specialised in children's heart diseases initiated by a group of Jordanian and Arab doctors based in the US. 

Back to the devil and the details, charity hospitals seem to be anything but charitable. Before writing this article, I picked the phone and inquired about the fee of the initial examination at one of these hospitals and it was JD10, compared with less than JD2 at the state-run Al Bashir Hospital, so you can imagine how much a patient would pay for a major surgery. 

When we address a problem like healthcare provision, we should address all its aspects, foremost of which is people's right to be served in dignity and respect.

 

The writer is the deputy chief editor of The Jordan Times

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MR AL ABED HS OPENED A CAN OF WORMS BY PROVIDING THIS STATISTICS THAT THERE ARE ABOUT 8000 MOSQUES WHICH MAY TRANSLATE INTO ONE MOSQUE PER STREET. IF DONORS AND THE GOVERNMENT CAN FUND AND BUILD THESE MANY MOSQUES, THEY
CAN AFFORD TO BUILD MORE HOSPITALS TO CARE FOR THE CITIZENS WHO WORSHIP IN THESE PLACES OF WORSHIP. THE MOSQUES AND OTHER PLACES OF WORSHIP ARE AS IMPORTANT AS HOSPITALS THAT PROVIDE THEM WITH HEALTH CARE. YOU CAN NOT SEPERATE ONE FROM THE OTHER.

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