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النسخة التجريبية من موقع النهضة العربية (أرض)

Unionists at A Meeting by ARDD: Health Unions Have a Key Role in Providing Comprehensive Social Protection


“There is no dispute that we have numerous health strategies, but those strategies are scattered and ineffective. Hence, we need the voices of the unions, government, civil society, and all specialists in the health system to be at the same table today.” With this assertion, unionists highlighted the imbalance in the Jordanian health sector, and the serious repercussions it entails on the social protection situation.

In the meeting held by the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD), entitled: “The Role of Health Unions in Social Protection”, within the framework of the activities of the Right to Health and Treatment Working Group at the Justice Sector Strengthening Forum, Monday, September 11, 2023, which was moderated by the main advisor at Durrat Al-Manal for Development and Training, Dr. Sawsan Al-Majali, the unionists agreed on the need to spread the idea of “comprehensive health care” and extend health gains to various regions of the Kingdom in a fair manner.

Al-Majali pointed out that unions in general play a crucial role in protecting their members and improving their conditions, stressing the importance of providing integrated and high-quality information and services in the health sector by strengthening the networks of national and private health care facilities.

In turn, Dr. Mohammed Al-Ababneh, Head of the Pharmacists Association, stated that health unions promote social justice and seek to achieve a balance between the rights of workers and the needs of society in the health sector. He added that the Association holds medical days in the governorates to provide medicine to the needy, citing examples of awareness initiatives, such as field visit programs to schools with the aim of educating students about the harms of smoking, as well as the establishment of a “medicine bank” in the governorates, all the way to the free pharmaceutical advice service provided in coordination with the treating doctor.

He also referred to the relief campaign launched by the Association, through which four million dinars were collected, to help the victims of the recent earthquakes in Syria and Turkey, thus affirming its effective role in social protection on both the national and the regional levels.

For his part, Khaled Al-Rababa’a, Head of the Nurses Association, listed the problems facing health unions in the Kingdom, starting with the nature of the relationship between the various ministries and trade unions, which is witnessing a “clear standstill”, in addition to the the lack of experienced and competent administrators to implement strategic decisions, indicating the attacks practiced daily against union members, and calling in this context for strict laws that would protect medical cadres as well as patients.

According to him, the Association has established a retirement fund to secure a decent life for nurses after retirement, provide interest-free loans to its members, as well as provide them with continuous learning opportunities to develop their professional knowledge, stressing that the Association aspires to reduce unemployment in the labor market by marketing competencies in the Arab market and the international market in general.

With regard to medical insurance coverage, Dr. Ziad Al-Zoubi, Head of the Jordanian Medical Association, explained that at least 20% of families in Jordan are not covered by health insurance, which requires finding a “national solution” that addresses this problem that affects a large segment of citizens. He said: “The Association provides members with a set of social protection schemes, such as the mandatory membership in the retirement fund, as well as the optional membership in the Social Solidarity Fund, in addition to providing members with urgent aid in the event of death or illness.

Al-Zoubi saw that doctors do not become productive until the age of forty, explaining that the new doctors’ fees chart came to serve the patient in the first place, and pointing out the need to develop these regulations in accordance with the economic situation and its developments.

As for the history of medical associations, Dr. Azem Qaddoumi, Head of the Dental Association, said that trade unions have existed since the establishment of the Jordanian state, with the Dental Association being one of the first, providing its members with mandatory health insurance as well as pensions, as well as social security. He then added: “The Association is working to develop professional standards and rules for dentists to ensure the provision of safe and quality health services to patients, in conjunction with following up on complaints to protect patients’ rights.”

In conclusion, unions in general, and health unions in particular, can play an important role in achieving social protection and social justice. However, according to the participants in the meeting, this requires concerting efforts between all civil and government sectors, strengthening communication and cooperation between workers in the health sector, government institutions, and private companies to develop health care and social protection, providing continuous education and training for medical cadres, and most importantly improving the working conditions and increasing salaries and benefits for health workers, which would be reflected in improving the quality of health services provided to the community.