The introduction of a free health service in Algiers on January 1st has doubled the number of outpatients at Algerian hospitals.
The introduction of a free health service in Algiers on January 1st has doubled the number of outpatients at Algerian hospitals. Free treatment is now available form all medical units dependent on the Algerian Health Minister and medication worth up to 15 DA (GBP 1.60) is also being distributed free. A charge of 3 DA (32p) is made for more expensive drugs.
The Health Ministry has been authorised to spend twice its normal budget on the new service which the government has hailed as Health Revolution.
With an annual birth rate of 3.4 per cent, Algeria's feet growing population has put a tremendous strain on the country's services and especially on medical personnel. A chronic shortage of doctors in the south is only alleviated by military doctors assigned by the Ministry of Health. Many of the 2,000 doctors are concentrated in the capital, Algiers, where there is one doctor for every 500 - 600 people. But even so, queues have been building up at the city's health centers since the free service was introduced.
Since 1972, 300 doctors have been graduating from Algerian universities annually, but by 1980 the government hopes to be able to meet its medical staff requirements.