Humans are inherently limited and highly susceptible beings. It is these limitations that brought about human needs. In order to address these needs, humans must turn to nature; it was created for their own good. In principle, nature is constant and very stable, with minor aberrations. On principle, however, full understanding of how nature works is critical, for it cuts both ways (it can equally harm if mismanaged). This calls for specialisation, teamwork, and interdependence amongst the people; unity in diversity for purpose. The purpose, in this case, is to produce befitting goods and services, in response to human needs, and this demands for direction, order, and integrity among players.
In order for humans to have intimacy with nature, navigation and familiarisation are vital; light and common sense play a central role in making it happen. Concurrently, goods and services must be produced, from the same nature, and this requires a gargantuan array of knowledge. Indubitably, light and knowledge are intertwined and flow in the same vein; even though, light is more and ubiquitously appreciated than knowledge. Therefore, the concept of light will be applied as an allegory of knowledge, as we resolve an incessant barrage of knowledge-related problems, among health professionals, of different tranches, before our health sector is desiccated.
General and Living Environments: General and Specific Light
What constitute a country is a sheaf of geopolitical area (territory), people, language(s), culture(s), tradition(s), and values. Broadly, the country is divided into two: General and Living Environments. The general environment is a primeval infrastructure endowed with abundant resources meant to sustain life. On the other hand, the living environment is subdivided into three major parts: Home, Work and Recreation environments. These environments are pre-emptive enclaves where people reside, work, and recreate.
The home environment is where people live; children are born, nurtured, and oriented until the expected social graces get hardwired into them. The work environment is where knowledge is applied; goods and services are produced and exchanged, in reaction to the needs of the people. The recreation environment provides facilities for people, from all walks of life, to relax after taking respites from their divers works.
The general environment, of any country, is the upholder of all lives, and superimposed upon it are general light and general knowledge; the means to perceive, apprehend, and make use of it to advantage mankind. It is scintillating to note that the living environment is purposefully designed; be that as it may, it is supported by, and feeds back into, the general environment. Additionally, the specific lights, for aforementioned specific environments, are upheld by, and flow back into, the general light. Furthermore, the specialised knowledge is for a specialised function; incredible though it may seem, it is backed by, and finds its way back to, the general knowledge for normalcy and improved living standards of the people.
In light of the above, the general environment, the general light, and the general knowledge are inseparable. The general knowledge is the key to unlock the general environment, and the specialised knowledge is there to deal with abnormalities, and as a bulwark to the general knowledge in quest to maintain and improve the general environment. Effectively, the general environment is the touchstone against the prevailing knowledge. The existential question: How much do we know, individually and collectively, of what is to be known, since what is to be known, the universal truth, has been with us since inception?
A House and Its Main Features: A Room and Its Specific Light
Home is part of the living environment as indicated earlier. To have a decent shelter is one of the health prerequisites. As such, a standard house would be a fulfilment of that sine qua non. For this thesis, only the major facilities of the house will be considered: Kitchen, Living Room, Bedrooms and Lavatory.
– The kitchen, with its trappings, is a room where food, for the household, is prepared and served.
– The living room, with its accoutrements, is a section of the house where family members gather to: provide leadership; set rules and targets; plan and strategize; assign responsibilities; pass time among others.
– The bedrooms, with their appurtenances, are provided for resting and privacy. The number of the bedrooms depends on the size and composition of the family.
– The lavatory is a department of the house, with restroom(s) and washroom(s).
In order for these rooms to serve the interest of the family, as intended, each of them must have a specific light. For this argument, the house will represent the Health Sector. Therefore, the kitchen, annexing the lavatory, stands for Preventive Health Services; the bedrooms for Curative Health Services; and the living room is for Public Health (the nexus of both health services). Answer Our Question: Which light of the house is more important?
Health Sector and Its Professions: A Health Profession is A Specialised Light in A Room
For a country to progress, the citizens must take a centre stage, and for that to happen, they must be healthy. The health sector is within the ambit of the work environment, insulated within the living environment, and its core assignment is to play a leading role in ensuring that people are hale and hearty. And for that to be actualised, the sector must have a well-defined framework and methodology, through which, specialised knowledge, in full panoply, is correctly applied. Below is a picture of how a classic heath sector works.
It is a bevy of public health services that the health sector uses in making sure that the health of the public is maintained and improved. The health sector, under the auspices of the Ministry of Health (MoH), is divided into two principal arms; preventive and curative, of which these two are further subdivided into more specified disciplines for accuracy.
– Preventive health services are proactive approach to public health, horizontally, covering a wider space of the sector. As the first line of defense, they are there to identify, assess, and disable any form of public health threat before causing harm to the public. These services are under the stewardship of environmental health profession, strongly, supported by identified professions. Environmental health, as a discipline, has a full knowledge quality parameter, and its professional is the only cadre, from the health sector, perfected to penetrate the entire government sphere.
– Curative health services are at a receiving end; covering a narrow range of the sector. As a reactive approach to public health, they are assigned to diagnose, provide treatments, and care to all patients for quick recovery. With the full knowledge quality parameters, the following are the key professions responsible for curative health services: Human Medicine, Nursing, Biomedicine, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Radiography and Dentistry.
– Public health is a compendium of all health services from both arms. As such, public health bestrides both preventive and curative health services. As a discipline, public health preempts all health professions; it is designated to provide leadership in the health sector. Accordingly, it is only available at postgraduate level, and limited to virtuoso health professionals.
This section has shown that preventive health services, curative health services, and public health, as a discipline, are the principal rooms of the health sector. Thus, the highlighted health professions are the specialised lights and their corresponding health professionals as the light bearers assigned to each of these revered rooms. Hence, a light in a room is a solved health problem. In this regard, there is no light more important than the other; they are all essential in their own right.
Unenviable State of Zambian Health Sector and The Way Forward
Having been given the quiddities and haecceities of a typical health sector, the Zambian one has been found to be a very different kettle of fish. The sector is off the rails and the medical doctors bear the brunt of the responsibility. Under normal scheme of things, light will never dissipate another light, instead, they will complement each other. Because of the delusions of grandeur, medical doctors think they are “the be all and end all” of health professionals; as a result, they have succumbed to the green-eyed monster. Here are reasons why the medical doctors are responsible for the current fiasco in the health sector:
– The medical doctors have arrogated to themselves the rights to be in charge of the entire health sector despite their limited horizontal coverage in their training. To corroborate the moot point raised, check with the leadership at national, provincial and district levels within the MoH. The key positions have been tagged and only given to them.
– The preventive medicine and curative medicine may complement each other, but they belong to two different sides of the divide. In spite of the aforesaid fact, the medical doctors are bent on destroying the preventive health services; they are occupying the positions they are not qualified. As a result, they have disenfranchised the health professionals trained to be in charge of this arm of public health.
– The medical doctors have also made the rest of the health professionals to have chips on their shoulders; disparity in conditions of service is lucid. As a sequel, the health sector is busy offering substandard public health services to the Zambians. Despite the subpar health services, attributed to their abysmal leadership, the medical doctors have emerged as Teflon professionals. while the rest of the health professionals are being paid a pittance, as salary, the medical doctors are pulling in copious amount of money; what an irony.
– There is an attempt to slink in an outlandish structure into the health sector. The sector has been turned into a cutthroat business; it is a dog eat dog world. For instance, the higher institutions of learning, in cahoots with the regulatory bodies and some turncoats within the health sector, are training and graduating professionals that are ferra incognita to the health sector. Professionals like, Public Health Nurse and Public Health, at diploma and degree levels, are illegitimate and should never be tolerated.
In view of the above, it is conspicuous that medical doctors have succeeded in blinding everyone with science. Consequently, it connotes that the politicians and senior government officials have no gravitas and moral rectitude to defend and protect the interest of the Zambians, and perforce, they get paid for nothing. Honestly, there is no problem with any of the health professions per se; each of them has a special je ne sais quoi about it. However, the problem lies with the health professionals representing them; it appears the lights are on but nobody is home. The good news, for all health professionals, is that their coats have been cut according to their clothes; therefore, we do not expect any interpolation. But if any intrusion is detected, it must be dealt with, at full tilt, by strange bedfellows.
Note that politics works hand in glove with civil service. The civil service, being a state apparatus, has the potential to help or hinder the politician. Hence the bureaucratic red tape must be, exclusively, consigned to those who know the ropes. As a consequence of appalling education standards, in Zambia, the full gamut of health professions is guilty of supplying ill-fitting health services to Zambians. As such, we don’t expect variations in conditions of service among health professionals. Only too often are medical doctors have threatened to leave the country if their salaries are not improved. The truth is that they cannot leave because they are half-baked. There is no country, with sound leadership, that will entrust the health of its citizens to a total stranger who happen to be a mountebank and unpatriotic. Hence the Zambian government is advised not to contradict itself.
Now that we have come face to face with the universal truth, we expect a fair crack of the whip, as we save the health sector from being a boondoggle. The following steps are vehemently recommended:
– There is need to overhaul the entire ministry of health. And ensure that only the best candidates are given the limited positions; always pick over the list of applicants.
– The preventive medicine, arm of public health, must be left for the bona fide light bearers; the medical doctors must vacate this section; they are living on borrowed time.
– Standardise the conditions of service among light bearers; be guided by workload, experience, academic qualifications, and special abilities being added advantage. Discrimination among health professionals is prejudicial; bring the salary scale of medical doctors to the same level with other light bearers.
– Interdict the introduction of illegal professions and structures within health sector. Public health, as a discipline, remains the melting pot of all health professions, and is only available at postgraduate level.
A light will only show what is there; likewise, knowledge will never create what is not there.