Panel Discussion on Enhancing Capacity Building in Public Health
PANEL DISCUSSION ON
ENHANCING CAPACITY-BUILDING IN PUBLIC HEALTH
Thank you Mr. President.
An important aspect for capacity building in Public Health is often termed health promotion or organization capacity for community development. Organizational capacity for community development is defined as “the potential ability of a health organization to develop an empowering and democratic partnership with a community, through which the community's capacity to identify and address its priority health concerns is enhanced.
Fiji’s primary health care system under the public health division is engaged routinely in undertaking community capacity building and development projects mainly in rural areas. A good example of how the Ministry of Health is undertaking this role is through zone or district nurses working with the community health workers, based in the communities. Primary health nurses conduct regular training of community health workers based on modular manuals which outlines their roles and addresses diverse topics such as community health education, first aid, advocacy for wellness, advising pregnant mothers, facilitating emergency transfers, and so forth. The community health workers are based within the community and selected by the community, and have recently been officially recognised as community stewards.
A major challenge for developing countries is the allocation of adequate resources for capacity building for public health. Most public health budgets comparatively are allocated less than 50% of the total health budget, with most of the budget being allocated to run hospital services. Public health programmes are largely dependent on donor funds that are streamed through UN agencies for capacity building activities. For many years, less than 5% of the training health budget is used for capacity building of health workers.
Mr President, capacity building for public health workforce is vital as it directly addresses the health issues of communities and the general population. Capacity building in Public Health in Fiji extends from the highly specialised public health positions to the basic and vital role of community health workers or community stewards. A more equitable distribution of health budgets and resources to building capacity of public health workers at strategic levels or areas is likely to enhance and accentuate the achievements of health outcomes that we all expect public health to achieve.
Thank you Mr President.