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Words that need more elucidation

Jan 20,2019 - Last updated at Jan 20,2019

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz confirmed on Saturday during a meeting held in cooperation with the World Health Organisation (WHO) that Jordan is committed to realising a comprehensive healthcare coverage for all Jordanians by the end of 2019, in line with His Majesty King Abdullah's directive to establish a "sustainable and fair healthcare system". This assurance also came in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

These assurances must, however, be interpreted in the context of the words carefully chosen and used by the prime minister for this purpose. When Razzaz says that the government is committed to "realising" a comprehensive healthcare coverage, he must have meant that the government would work at attaining this goal in a progressive manner. This, therefore, means a gradual implementation of this goal, and not an immediate or instant implementation. The time line for achieving this goal, therefore, remains open ended.

Moreover, the prime minister said that the ultimate aim is to establish "a sustainable and fair healthcare system", without shedding light on what these words actually mean or entail, specially when he drew a line between a "comprehensive healthcare coverage" on one hand, and "health insurance" on the other.

There is a haunting fear here that the government is playing the "semantic" game, by making an artificial divide between the two objectives. Still, be that as it may, the mere fact that the government is prioritising a comprehensive healthcare coverage for all is good enough for the time being. What remains is how this goal will be achieved, given the economic and financial hardships that the government is facing. And, above all, what this goal really entails!

What, for example, does a “sustainable and fair healthcare system" really mean at the end of the line? The obvious interpretation is that whatever the government has really in mind will be "realised" in a "fair and sustainable" manner, a loophole, no doubt, that needs "fixing" at one point or another in time.

Yet be that as it may, the government has clearly signalled that it is conscious of the urgent need to put its healthcare system in order to provide the people with the right to health, as clearly stipulated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that Jordan had signed and ratified decades ago.

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