- The Cape Verdean Parliament yesterday unanimously approved of a far reaching law, regulating a widened national health service. Meanwhile, Cape Verde signed agreements of deepening health care cooperation with its former colonial power, Portugal, leading to an increasing technical support from Lisbon.
According to reports from the pro-government Praia-based 'Radio Comercial', yesterday's parliamentary decision found the support of all delegates from the ruling PAICV party and the Movement for Democracy (MpD) opposition party.
The new basic law regulating the National Health Service is considered the basic part of the intents to reform the entire health sector of Cape Verde. Key factors of the national health reform programme include plans to improve the management of information and training system in the sector.
Cape Verdean Health Minister Basílio Ramos presented the bill to Parliament, saying he considered it to be adjusted to the present economic situation of the country, adding that the law would be an appropriate answer to current challenges of the health sector. Minister Ramos earlier had said he would not approve of health reforms "whose implementation is uncertain" or found to be above available resources.
In contrast to previous health legislation, the bill establishes the composition and the scope of national health services as a whole, enumerates its objectives and defines the statute of professionals and patients, according to government sources in Praia.
Minister Ramos told the Cape Verdean Parliament that "in relation to the current law, this bill is observed to be much more developed, actualised, systematic and more precise in terms of concepts."
He added that the 2004 national health bill represented a major "advance compared to the law of 1989, especially when it comes to respond to the challenges that the sector faces, both nominally and by providing Cape Verdeans with more and better health services."
The bill also was applauded by MpD representative João Medina, himself a former Health Minister, saying that it indeed represented an advance compared to the current national health law. Mr Medina however emphasised that it would be necessary to adopt further measures, once the law was approved, to assure that better health services in fact were provided.
The opposition's health spokesman urged the PAICV government to reinforce its work on the upcoming health reform to make sure that the new law would have the wanted effect. In particular, Mr Medina held, reforms needed to lead to "a new organisation of the Ministry of Health," which needed to become more energetic.
Before entering into vigour, the new law will now be submitted to the consideration of a special commission of the National Assembly. This is however only considered a formality, after the bill had won a unanimous support in Parliament.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Ramos is host to his Portuguese colleague, Carlos Martins, on an official visit to Cape Verde from 26 January to 1 February. The visit of Minister Martins is part of the Cape Verdean government's efforts to reform its national health services.
According to Praia authorities, the agenda of the Portuguese Health Minister principally includes "discussing the strategies to make the Letter of Intent operational within the sector of health between Portugal and Cape Verde."
Mr Martins and his delegation are travelling to several islands of the archipelago, visiting health facilities of six different local authorities during his week-long stay. Here, he aims to "understand the working conditions" of local health personnel in Cape Verde, Praia authorities state.
The Portuguese visit yesterday reportedly yielded its first results, as the two countries' governments stated that "a new page is opened" in the health cooperation between them. Three protocols on technical cooperation were signed in Praia, including sending Portuguese expertise on public health and blood.
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