The power of commitment

Margaret Mead
Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead lamented that one should “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the World”. “Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has,” she said.اضافة اعلان

While many may prefer the relatively easy road of accepting the status quo, there are always a few who, despite witnessing an immovably harsh reality, care enough to envisage a better future and take an initiative, who rally support and make a real difference.

In Jordan, a landmark example is Himmetna, the civil society organization focused on improving circumstances for healthcare service users. Translated loosely but befittingly, himmetna can mean “our effort” or “our drive”; fortunately, the team behind it went far beyond just choosing a good name for themselves. Since its inception, a mere three years ago, the organization has united different partners around a noble and singular goal. It has implemented intuitive effective solutions and simply pressed on, garnering much well-deserved recognition in the process.

The founder, Fadia Samara, comes from a healthcare leadership background and has a personal commitment to reaffirm the healthcare-related rights of people. Latterly, this has been through her work with the Patient Protection Coalition and elsewhere. Second only to her role as a devoted mother, she has made it her life’s work to ensure that as many persons as possible have access to effective and appropriate care in a timely, affordable and dignified manner.

The concept of meaningful “universal health coverage” remains surprisingly unattainable for many around the globe, overshadowed by limited resources or strong backwinds and special interests. Notably, even the US is still struggling, and not always moving forward, to achieve this for its population, despite immense national spending on healthcare.

In Jordan, we can call upon virtually all the medical and allied healthcare expertise that we need. We can access the latest evidence-based treatments and technology and are able to plan and design facilities in a way that adheres to global standards. By focusing on deploying healthcare coverage and services in a value-driven and equitable way, embracing innovative practices while leveraging comprehensive primary and preventative care, we should be able to drive continuous improvement in outcomes and wellbeing of our population.

What can be more pressing and worthwhile than ensuring ease of access for those seeking care, than making services effectively available where they are not, and securing healthcare equitably, irrespective of distance or affordability.
Government investment in healthcare should be optimized and directed at areas where institutions can perform most effectively or even exclusively, ensuring a level of protection and coverage for the most vulnerable, sidelined communities, with overarching strategies based on up-to-date information and feedback.
Having defined the goal, Samara rightfully recognized that the components required were at hand: human capital, knowledge, financing, and the ability to coordinate efforts and channel them into a single service stream. Like much of Jordan’s resources, these simply needed to be mined. Next came a strong governance structure and a committed team with complementary skill sets, mutual trust, a clear strategy and a lean transformation model implementable within the prevailing context.

Through the best efforts of medical planners, designers, project managers and engineers, Himmetna created better places to work and be cared for, functional, comfortable and, moreover, attractive. This physical environment in turn helps to galvanize the desired organizational culture and sets the tone for productive patient-provider relationship. When environments are optimized and become conducive to recovery, it is not just the patient’s experience that improves, but also the clinical outcomes.

Himmetna works tirelessly to ensure that its services are truly sustainable.

The roll-out started with the oncology department at Al-Bashir Hospital, followed by the isolation and critical care unit at the King Hussein Medical City, the medical center at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center and the recently announced rehabilitation works at the Princess Basma health center in Ras Al-Ain. Each project is worthy of its own healthcare management case study: the needs assessment, the stakeholder engagement, the multi-disciplinary work, the efficiency of execution, and the palpable effect on patient access and experience are all there.

Credibility has now been firmly established and a nimble, independent-minded model has evolved into a successful results-based partnership between civil society, the business sector and official bodies that provide healthcare in Jordan.

Himmetna’s private enterprise supporters must be recognized for their generous contributions, whether financial or through volunteering valuable time and expertise. In synchrony, the astute leadership within the Ministry of Health and of the Royal Medical Services have demonstrated that they are motivated to work with partners who share the same values and interest in promoting Jordanians’ health and wellbeing.

Government investment in healthcare should be optimized and directed at areas where institutions can perform most effectively or even exclusively, ensuring a level of protection and coverage for the most vulnerable, sidelined communities, with overarching strategies based on up-to-date information and feedback.

State-funded bodies are better positioned to provide fair oversight and equity of access, regardless of financial ability or location. They will spearhead those services that represent social good — public health, emergency response and prevention — and can integrate such efforts with other government bodies striving for a multi-dimensional state of societal wellbeing, including social, legislative and economic aspects.

While Himmetna is patient-centered, it is also participatory; it builds communities locally and nationally and keeps its growing audience happily updated on its efforts and milestones.

A recently launched crowd-funding campaign invites anyone to contribute as little as half a dinar to ongoing projects. A growing sense of ownership will ensue as more of us become backers and beneficiaries.

Movements like this exist to demonstrate the potential reaches of a grassroots initiative framed by a clear vision. I urge you to join its growing base of active supporters and to even one day envisage and realize your own himmeh; we can certainly do with more of those.

The writer is an ophthalmologist, medical researcher, health care executive, policy expert and consultant.

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