Free online reading
Table of contents
As the world enters into the last 1000 days of the implementation of Millennium development goals, it is time for each government and every development institution to self-introspect and evaluate the progress made “thus far”. Achieving these global set benchmarks hinges on proper and effective policies, however having these policies alone will not bring change, and there is need for government and stockholder commitment.
Access to health care remains a major challenge not only in the developing world; health services are fast becoming unaffordable for citizens of the developed world. The WHO estimates that more than 800 women die during birth or due to child birth related complications daily. “A child's risk of dying is highest in the neonatal period, the first 28 days of life. About 3.3 million babies died in 2009 in their first month of life and 2.6 million are stillborn. Within the first month, one quarter to one half of all deaths occurs within the first 24 hours of life, and 75% occur in the first week”( WHO 2010). A closer analysis of global and country level epidemiological data reveals that there are disparities between countries for an example 99% of maternal deaths occur in the developing countries while only 1% of maternal deaths are experienced in the developed world. Epidemiological data also highlights health status discrepancies between the different socio economic classes at intra-country level.
In order to address access to quality health services disparities at both intra-country and inter country levels there is need for to revisit the health policies at both country and global level. These policies have an impact of either widening the access gap or reducing it. “Health policy refers to decisions, plans, and actions that are undertaken to achieve specific health care goals within a society. An explicit health policy can achieve several things: it defines a vision for the future which in turn helps to establish targets and points of reference for the short and medium term. It outlines priorities and the expected roles of different groups; and it builds consensus and informs people.” (WHO, May 2012).
However due to the increase in the number of interested parties in the health arena, public health policy formulation and implementation has become more political than before. This has further militated against improved access to health care.
The paper seeks to evaluate the Zimbabwe -Public Health Act (15: 09) of 1924 . It highlights the major content of the policy and partly looks at the history of the policy, and the factors that influence its adoption. The paper will also seek to highlight the pros and cons of application of the policy in present day Zimbabwe.
To most people public health is an often under-recognized, and remains the least prioritized area. However most significant changes to the quality of life and the health status of nations relays heavily this this basic component of health. “Most improvements in life expectancy and other key markers of healthy populations are the result of effective public health programs. Public health efforts such as the introduction of clean water and mass immunization programs, mortality and morbidity have been reduced around the world. Aspects of public health include health promotion – activities taken to encourage healthy behaviors – and health protection, actions taken to protect individuals from spreading harms.” (K Wilson 2012)
The Ottawa charter of 1978 invited many actors into the field of health. These actors included the private sector. NGOs and other non-tradition actors in the field of public health. As a result developing effective public health policies has become very complex and more political. In order to develop an effective policy countries should have all the different actors and their interest in mind. In with that in mind the public health policy discourse can be viewed as a map to direct the direction public health practitioners should take, the driver being the Ministry of health.
General analysis Health policy definition
The increased interest by different parties in health maters calls for an increased need for strong and quality health policies if any significant improvement of the health status of communities is to be attained. Health policy gives guidance on the envisaged future, it spells out the priorities, different roles and thus is robust coordination tool. According to WHO (May 2012) “it outlines priorities and the expected roles of different groups; and it builds consensus and informs people.” Without coordination and clear efforts to enhance health status of any community will have limited impact. An example during the Rwanda genocide when many humanitarian agencies mobilized millions of dollars for humanitarian assistance. However due to unclear roles, lack of coordination and standards very little was achieved. However lessons learnt from the Rwanda experience lead to the birth of the sphere project amongst other policy documents.
Characteristics of a good health policy
Due to the explicit and undeniable need for national health policies most countries have the policy documents. However there are two major challenges that affect most developing countries names poor quality of policies which fail to address the general needs of the populace and secondly lack of political will to support the policy. The later has made most policies become library documents which do not translate in to action.
- Quote paper
- Mjabuli Jamela (Author), 2013, The Zimbabwe Public Health Act, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/215903