The Moroccan government runs a two-tier health practice system – public and private. The condition of both systems can at best, be regarded as abysmal in the recent past which is quite similar to what is obtainable in several developing countries. For a country with about 33 million populaces, the standard of health care is quite inadequate. This inadequacy stem from the limited number of health facilities, outdated medical (diagnostic and intervention) equipment, and a very limited number of doctors to take care of the health needs of its 33 million population.
With a good number of good private hospitals stationed in major cities, the biggest burdens of health care are seen in the rural areas. The major problem to health care in these areas lies in accessibility and affordability.
Challenges to Morocco’s stride towards improved health care
As stated above, the Moroccan health sector is faced with several challenges. Over the years, the government has made significant efforts to curtail the degree to which these challenges affect health care. The government, in recent years, has put in significant effort into this cause but a few critical challenges are still being faced. These include chronic shortage of staff especially in the public health system, unequal distribution in the quality of service delivery, gaps in governance with its attendant lack of continuity to health policies, and lack of financial resources.
Over the years, several policies have been put in place to tackle these problems with the recent being the amendment of the health practice law which allows for foreign doctors to practice medicine in Morocco.
The new health practice law in Morocco
Following the meeting on Thursday, 27th May, of the Moroccan Cabinet headed by Saad-Eddine El Othmani, bill No. 33.21 on changing and completing the Law No. 131.33 related to the practice of “Medicine”, while scrutinizing some of the observations raised in this regard was approved.
Morocco’s spokesperson in the official capacity and current Minister of Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education, and Scientific Research, Saïd Amzazi, in a communiqué after the convening of the council stated that this draft law which was presented by the minister of Health has been approved in adherence to His Majesty’s directives which are aimed at reforming the national health system which will better help in the implementation of the provisions of Law No. 09.21 on rights to social protection. According to him, “it is now time to strengthen the medical human capital as it is an essential and decisive component of the effectiveness of the health system in our country”. The statement above is impressive and should be applauded as it shows that Morocco is waking up to the realities of 21st-century medical practice.
Amzazi said that the said law will be reviewing the terms and conditions surrounding the participation of foreigners in the practice of medicine in morocco following His Majesty, the King’s call on several occasions to integrate the foreign community in the professional sectors where a chronic shortage of workers is an issue for concern.
“By the above, and in order to bypass the strict legal requirements imposed by Law No. 131.13 related to the practice of medicine by foreign doctors, and in the prospect of pursuing Moroccan expatriate-doctors into practicing medicine in their homeland, a draft law has been prepared to change and complete the current legal proceedings in this regard”, Saïd Amzazi, Morocco’s official spokesperson added.
In conclusion, Mr. Amzazi asserted that the law aims at enabling both Moroccan and Foreign Professionals to engage in the practice of Medicine in Morocco on a permanent basis, as well as lifting the stringent prescriptions on the practice of medicine in Morocco by foreign doctors and Moroccan doctors residing abroad.
The implications of this amendment
This amendment in the participation of foreigners in the practice of medicine in Morocco will without a doubt usher in a paradigm shift in the way medical practice is delivered. Drawing inferences from the problems that have faced the system before now, this new law will go a long way in addressing the shortfalls. These advantages include:
- Increase in the number of doctors taking care of Morocco’s population: As stated earlier, one of the biggest problems crippling the health system in morocco is the limited number of doctors in the health sector. This problem stems majorly from the inadequate number of medical schools to graduate medical doctors and the emigration of doctors to other regions of the world. The involvement of foreigners in health care provision will help address this issue as it will eliminate the restrictions which before now mitigated the migration of foreign doctors to Morocco.
- Reduction in the cost of medical care: This mirrors what is obtainable in a capitalist economy. With an increase in the participation of foreigners comes an increase in healthy competition. Before now, doctors in Morocco provide care at a rate that is not affordable by an average Moroccan especially in private hospitals. This is mostly because of the increased demand for healthcare in the presence of limited healthcare professionals, hence, quality healthcare goes to the person who can afford to pay the most.
- Improved quality of care: With increased immigration of doctors to morocco will be an attendant increase in the quality of service delivery. This is because, the consumers of medical services (the Moroccan populace), will seek healthcare from establishments where they get maximum value for their money. This will be possible because there will several health care providers to choose from unlike in the old system where the number of providers is limited thus taking away the luxury of choosing from the consumers.
- Immigration of Moroccan doctors abroad: Moroccan doctors who before now can not return home to practice medicine can now do so owing to the adoption of this law. This way, they can stay close to their roots while doing what they love.
The Moroccan government over the years has made very significant strides in the quest to improve health care and health care delivery in the country. Although these efforts seem to be hampered by several factors, they do not go unnoticed. One of the plausible initiatives of this year is the amendment of the law which now allows for the involvement of foreigners in medicine. This law is plausible because it will allow for an increase in the number of doctors taking care of the Moroccan populace, reduce the cost of health care, and improve the quality of service delivery. The law is expected to have a ripple effect that will translate into an improved health sector.