Rabat – The Medical Assistance Plan (RAMED) is becoming a victim of its own success. While at the time of its launch the plan covered 8.5 million beneficiaries, it now must assist 11.5 million people in need. With a lack of resources and problems of governance, this ambitious goal is farfetched, says the Minister of Health, Houcine El Ouardi.Constraints on infrastructure, medical equipment, and financial and human resources have resulted in critical constraints limiting the efficiency of the RAMED plan, said El Ouardi during a meeting of the Social Sector Committee in the House of Representatives on Thursday.The ministry explained that RAMED health coverage has lowered the spending of families it benefits by 6 percent, but that these measures are not enough. Moroccans still spend more that 50.7 percent of their income on health care. The lack of effectiveness of the RAMED plan is also affected by poor governance. Beneficiaries of of the National Social Security Fund (CNSS) and RAMED sometimes overlap, and one person can hold more than one RAMED card,said the minister of health.To tackle this problem, El Ouardi said the ministry is working setting up an integrated and decentralized information system, in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior and the National Agency for Health Insurance (ANAM).The plan will also seethe creation of a regulatory body,which would be under public control,independent of RAMED.Despite its dysfunctions, El Ouardi asserted that RAMED has contributed to improvements in health care, in both the prevention and treatment of patients, including cancer treatments and heart and blood transplantation operations, said the minister.Aside from the RAMED plan, he admitted, the health sector in the country is suffering from dire threats.The health minister revealed that Morocco is suffering from a shortage of 32,000 doctors and 64,000 nurses.Each nurse in public hospitals is responsible for four patients, which, according to El Ouardi, puts a “heavy responsibility” on physician assistants.The distribution of healthcare workers between rural and urban Morocco is far from being fair, explained the minister. Fifty-two percent of Morocco’s medical staff is centered in the Rabat-Salé-Kenitra and Casablanca-Settat regions, whose populations do not exceed 34 percent of the overall Moroccan population.According to El Ouardi, rural areas in Morocco are the most likely to suffer from medical staff shortage. Only 6,000 out of the 55,000 nurses in Morocco working in villages. read more