August 13, 2014


In a culture of blame and suspicion there is always the need to find a scapegoat. But that doesn't solve the problem but only prolongs the issue. 

Political governance is no exception to this. While we all know that problem solving is about finding the causes behind the concern which are always many, and addressing these systematically, to pinpoint one and taking that out is only too simplistic. It is merely like giving aspirin for the pain from an affliction that is much deeper which cannot really go away without taking a more holistic approach. 

Just like that pain, our health sector's woes cannot be wished away by the removal of just one deemed obstacle. It gets even more complicated and less effective when such decisions are politically motivated. The social pain then gets to be mixed up with system's pain. We are happy we have taken action, but the problem lies unsolved until the public uproar behooves another political move.

The removal of Minister Shakeela is not a solution to the woes of the health sector. These lie much deeper. From the breakdown of they operational system that was decimated in the past without any consideration of the pains taken to build it over decades, the removal of the backbone of our workforce that were the community health workers who were established in a primary health care system that was the envy of many nations in our region (look at all the glowing health indicators we had achieved as a nation and now how these are regressing?). Look now at the overly ostentatious focus we give to medical care to that of prevention in the name of improving health! Hospitals and doctors are merely a part of a holistic health care system, not the only or primary part of it. Our national health can improve - especially now with our communicable diseases under reasonable control - is to focus on preventing our lifestyle behaviors such as our smoking, drinking all those fizzy and energy drinks, eating all the fatty foods that are of an imported culture, and reducing our riding on motor-cycles and rather begin bicycling and walking. These are what will make us healthy in the future. Not the removal of a health minister from her post with the slap of blame on the occurrence of a few health incidents in our nation seen in only the first few months in the post. The decentralized governance system with the council-backbone needs to begin taking responsible action at the local level instead of reverting all the blame to the center. Human error and misdeeds are a part of human nature. Especially medical errors are always there in small proportion. This is solved by establishing and employing and managing people and systems sustainably. In a dynamic political environment such as we have now in our country and the undue and unprecedented and shortsighted changes we have been bringing on to our health system that had been evolving quite well,  no one person can be the reason of failure. Hospitals and health personnel alone don't and cannot make us healthy - they can only cure or manage our disease condition. Being healthy is really in our own hands, by living a responsible lifestyle that is healthful. 

Shakeela's removal can only be taken as putting a band-aid on a gun-shot wound.  

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