HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 598: 11 January 2012

Public sector review: Health and Social Services
Health and Social Services will be a newly merged ministry, under the government structure proposed in the ADB Public Sector review a copy of which was recently released to the Herald by the Office of the leader of the Opposition in the public interest. The reasoning behind this merging of functions according to the report is ensuring those most in need can get access to the services and resources they require.
The focus of the new ministry will move towards an emphasis on preventative programs, in order to reduce costs and relieve the burden on the health system. The preventative programs will be coordinated in partnership with the proposed Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (see last week’s Herald for more information on this Ministry) to ensure that programs are focussed on target sectors of the community, including early childhood and youth, and also so that relevant information is shared between the two sectors. The report does acknowledge, however, that preventative programs will only result in a reduction of healthcare costs, “if the people and community take heed of the preventative messages and take ownership of their health and wellbeing.”
Under the ministry’s proposed structure, there will be four core functions: Policy and Development, Social Services, Health Services and Regulatory Services. Included within Social Services will be Vulnerability Support, which will address the needs of the disabled, elderly and victims of abuse or domestic violence. The additional functions under Social Services will be Youth and Gender, as well as Welfare and Benefits. Health Services will be divided into the functions of Hospital Services and Community Health Services. Outer islands health functions will be amalgamated and delivered through Health Services.
Though the proposed structure is predicted to reduce costs in the long term, there isn’t a real indication as to whether this structure will be any more successful than the status quo in addressing areas in real need, such as mental health. Further to this, the ADB Review proposes that a Medical Tourism initiative be introduced through the Ministry of Economic Development, but states that this initiative will only be viable “once the quality of medical service delivery and the hospital improve to ‘world class’ standards.” How the sector intends to become ‘world-class’ in its standards is an issue government will still need to address. -Ngariki Ngatae

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

Copyright 2006 Cook Islands Herald online . All rights reserved.