Day job takes Don­ald­son to Mid­dle East

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

Bar­bara Don­ald­son rep­re­sents Porirua on the district health board and the re­gional coun­cil in Welling­ton, but be­tween meet­ings her reg­u­lar job takes her around the world.

As a former health ad­min­is­tra­tor at Kenepuru Hospi­tal and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Qual­ity Health New Zealand, Ms Don­ald­son works on be­half of the in­ter­na­tional Foun­da­tion for Health Care Qual­ity au­dit­ing sys­tems.

Her most re­cent trip, in De­cem­ber, was to Jor­dan and was her fourth to the king­dom.

‘‘Jor­dan ac­tu­ally has a very good health sys­tem but wanted to en­sure that by de­vel­op­ing an ac­cred­i­ta­tion sys­tem which as­sesses hos­pi­tals and or­gan­i­sa­tions,’’ she said

Jor­dan is, like New Zealand, rel­a­tively small at 90,000 square kilo­me­tres and lightly pop­u­lated, with 6.5 mil­lion peo­ple but the sim­i­lar­i­ties end there.

Bor­dered by Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Is­rael, it is con­sid­ered an in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant coun­try to the West­ern world, and ac­cord­ingly is a ma­jor re­cip­i­ent of United States aid.

For­eign aid con­trib­utes more than 20 per cent of Jor­dan’s gross domestic prod­uct.

Jor­da­nian health providers are aim­ing to get into med­i­cal tourism, the busi­ness of at­tract­ing vis­i­tors for sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures.

‘‘They be­lieve that they can do it cheaper then a lot of the west­ern coun­tries,’’ Ms Don­ald­son said. ‘‘To do that they have to es­tab­lish with the med­i­cal in­surance com­pa­nies and with health [ser­vice] con­sumers them­selves that they have in­cred­i­bly high stan­dards.’’

Ms Don­ald­son and the Foun­da­tion for Health Care Qual­ity team as­sessed the coun­try’s health ser­vices’ gov­er­nance, man­age­ment, pa­tient care, fa­cil­i­ties man­age­ment, health and safety, ‘‘and risk is huge – assess­ing risk’’.

Jor­dan was es­tab­lished ar­bi­trar­ily by Bri­tain early last cen­tury, sep­a­rated off from Pales­tine.

It be­came in­de­pen­dent in 1946, but has lit­tle arable land, no oil and lit­tle water, be­cause most of the River Jor­dan’s flow is ex­tracted by Is­rael be­fore it gets there.

‘‘When the Bri­tish drew the plans they drew them a lit­tle too far north,’’ Ms Don­ald­son said.

Jor­dan’s 92 per cent Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion presents chal­lenges for its health sys­tem, in­clud­ing the po­si­tion of women in it.

It is well-known and ac­cepted in sec­u­lar west­ern coun­tries that the bet­ter the team­work be­tween med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als, with the pa­tient at the cen­tre, the bet­ter the out­come.

‘‘In some of th­ese coun­tries, the doc­tor is still para­mount,’’ Ms Don­ald­son said. ‘‘The other thing is be­ing able to ac­knowl­edge a mis­take. It’s the hard­est thing to do but if you don’t, you can’t im­prove.’’

Although Jor­da­ni­ans have a life ex­pectancy of more than 80 years at birth, it has a com­par­a­tively high in­fant mor­tal­ity rate of 16 per 1000 live births (New Zealand’s fig­ure is 4), and the ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity rate is also high at 63 deaths per 10,000 live births (New Zealand’s is 16).

Although Jor­dan has so far es­caped the Arab Spring up­ris­ings, thanks in part to its pop­u­lar king, it has still brought prob­lems.

There were 235,000 refugees from the Syr­ian civil war in Jor­dan at the be­gin­ning of 2013.

‘‘How long are they go­ing to live there? And the Pales­tinian camps have be­come per­ma­nent,’’ Ms Don­ald­son said.

There were two mil­lion Pales­tini­ans liv­ing in Jor­da­nian refugee camps long term.

Ms Don­ald­son did not know if she would need to re­turn.

Busi­ness trav­eller: Cap­i­tal & Coast District Health Board mem­ber Bar­bara Don­ald­son’s reg­u­lar job took her to Am­man, Jor­dan, in De­cem­ber.

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