Interview: Abdelmalek Boudiaf
What were the main gaps that were identified following the recent audits on the health sector?
ABDELMALEK BOUDIAF: The audits have allowed us to identify weaknesses in two specific areas: the management and the organisation of the national health system. In parallel with the drafting of a new law to improve the management of the national health system, an action plan for the near- and mid-term was developed. This focuses on the following issues: managing cardiovascular emergencies; strengthening the sector’s capacity in the field of medical resuscitation; resuming transplant operations; treating cancer; developing drugs and other pharmaceuticals; addressing health-care needs in the south; managing expenses and promoting good governance; improving training; and encouraging home care and home hospitalisation.
How would you evaluate the current state of Algeria’s national cancer strategy?
BOUDIAF: Today, thanks to the revival of pre-existing programmes registered before the adoption of the cancer plan and the signing of a strategic partnership with the two main firms producing radiotherapy equipment, we have 24 accelerators in operation with five run by the private sector. With the cancer plan we expect to add 40 new accelerators in the public sector by 2018 and at least 18 during 2016. This will reinforce existing anti-cancer centres in Algiers and Blida as well as forthcoming centres in Tlemcen, Tizi Ouzou, Laghouat, Sidi Bel Abbes and El Oued. With these efforts, waiting times should not exceed one month. In terms of financing, the cancer strategy has benefited from the establishment of a special fund partly financed through tobacco taxes.
We have to develop more awareness and strengthen our early detection capabilities. This is particularly true with respect to breast cancer, which remains the leading cause of cancer in women. To this end we strive to promote training to support the development of medical oncology as well as the skills needed in radiation treatment. To aid in these efforts, we will soon be able to accurately assess the prevalence and incidence of cancer through an electronic cancer registry created in late December 2014. The plan also relies on raising awareness to deliver prevention messages and influence behaviour.
Can you summarise the primary objectives of the recent draft health law?
BOUDIAF: The main objectives of the draft law are related to establishing the health services map and the health organisation plan; providing support for both a strong public sector and a complementary private sector; and supporting a centralised administration to ensure the effectiveness of planning, regulation, control and evaluation.
The draft law also seeks to modernise resource management and planning by providing the sector with an efficient health-care information system. This project also includes the consolidation of all public health institutions under one local level administrative entity called a “health unit” in a given territory, which will serve to establish a hierarchy of support networks organised around the family doctor.
What role does the National Medicine Agency play in regulating the drug market?
BOUDIAF: The creation of this agency allows for the management of pharmaceutical products in terms of registration, inspection and quality control. This will help ensure and assess the coverage of national needs and allow for better regulation in importing medicines. However, controlling imports does not mean reducing the import of drugs. We simply want to achieve the most efficient use of our financial resources. The objective is not to fully cover our needs through local production but to ensure the availability of drugs while encouraging domestic production.
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