Fruits picked and seeds sown
On Saturday each one of you will be asked to choose the leader of our country for the next five years. Among other aspects you will have to evaluate where and how our health system has developed during this legislature.
You are invited to reflect upon the nature of the harvest which the Nationalist Government has provided you with to date. You are requested to check the quality of the soil which has been secured for further harvests in the future.
You are asked to acknowledge the seeds which have been sown to provide for the future. My current term as Minister of Health is about to end.
Before the chapter closes I would like to share with you my own reflection and evaluation upon reaped harvests, prepped soils and sown seeds.
We have worked hard in various fields. We have reaped many outcomes. Enhanced access to a wider spectrum of surgery, more investigations and interventions, increased drugs and medications, are some of the fruit which each person in our society is now provided with.
A primary health care system equipped with a workforce which is adequate in quality and quantity and with sufficient infrastructure and equipment is another harvest which I take pride in.
Community services which are increasingly developing stronger bridges with our hospitals and relevant NGOs is yet another bunch of fruits. Partnerships with the private sector which seek to address gaps between the demand and the supply which the public health system addresses is indeed another gathering which we systematically continue to reap. Established agreements with specialised entities overseas are providing fruit which are specifically picked by individuals whose health challenge cannot be catered for adequately in our own country. Our work and efforts have indeed borne fruit!
The electorate picked these fruits along the years. Did the electorate like this fruit? Was the electorate satisfied? Does the electorate want to secure more fruit for the next few years? Your vote will give us the answers.
We have gathered various harvests. However, we have also prepped further soil ground for the future. We need fertile soil to be used in the years to come. We have prepared this and moreover, we managed to sow more seeds. Such sown seeds are yet to germinate and bear fruit. Your vote will determine if and when they will do so!
These seeds have been placed in soil which became fertile as a result of the work and preparations of field grounds which characterised earlier legislatures, governed by the Nationalist Party. Initiatives and investments which reversed the brain drain across our professionals, the establishment of structures for appropriate training opportunities for our professionals, including for specialisation are two of the central ones. Investment in new hospitals and health centres, and the rising budget allocations towards health every year, are other characteristics which prepared essential fertile soil, which allows for the seeds to be sown and enable their potential to develop into the needed harvests.
One major seed was sown through the various agreements signed with different health care professions over the last few weeks.
These agreements have now sealed an official commitment towards the provision of adequate professional staff, across longer periods of the day and across increased days of the week. Services offered by doctors, pharmacists, nurses and allied health professionals through late afternoons, and across all days of the week, should be the harvest of the next legislature. The outcomes of this are obviously favourable.
The now available fertile ground of enhanced supplies, in quantity and quality, of health care professionals, finally permitted the secured commitment of professionals across more time periods and days of the week. These agreements should fit the increased demand which our health care system is experiencing effectively. The country needs such congruence between the demand and the supply. Patients in need cannot do without this fruit. We have sown the seeds for such fruit. Your vote will determine the fate of the potential harvest!
We are all keen on the best health care for all of us. We all know that good health care is one thing which we are surely not ready to risk.
On Saturday each of us will be asked to choose between trusting the fruit farmers and vendors who have delivered to date and have prepped fertile soil and sown potential seeds for the future, or the ones whose plans for securing fertile grounds and viable seeds are, to-date, not known.
I trust your judgement!
Dr Joseph Cassar is Minister of Health, Elderly and Community Care.