A bill proposing to remove Belau National Hospital and affiliated services from the Ministry of Health, and have it operated by a “semi-autonomous” body, passed third reading in the Senate and was transmitted to House of Delegates.
The bill proposes to separate hospital management from the Ministry of Health, which it says will allow “the Ministry to focus on developing primary health care and public health programming.” The new body will oversee the management and operation of the Belau National Hospital, assuming the responsibility currently under the Ministry of Health.
The body created will be called Belau National Hospital Authority. Belau National Hospital Authority will consist of five appointed members, 3 of which will be Palauan, appointed by President with advise and consent of the Senate. The bill says that the five members “shall be from the Republic’s medical, legal, financial and managerial communities including those with demonstrated expertise in clinical practice of healthcare administration.”
The new authority, according to the Senate Committee on Health and Social Welfare report, will “reduce inefficiencies in current hospital management and improving overall state of healthcare within Palau.” It also says that this will “function as the independent administrator of the Belau National Hospital and affiliated medical services, located within the Executive Branch but separate from the Ministry of Health.”
It is empowered to hire and fire employees of the Authority and of the Belau National Hospital and to sue and be sued and to execute contracts.
The Senate committee noted concerns raised during public hearings from different groups including doctors, hospital directors and key personnel. One of the main concerns is the delineation of responsibilities and authorities between this new body once created and the Ministry of Health and the possible disruption of services as a result. Committee assured concerned that the issues will be ironed out during the transition period.
The committee also noted that the bill fulfills President Whipps’ transition report in which his Ministry of Health Subcommittee recommended “exploring Hospital Services as a semi-autonomous entity”.
In addition to other outcomes touted by the committee, it reported that this bill will fulfill Constitutional mandate of providing “free preventive healthcare for every citizen” and promoting “the health and social welfare of the citizens through provision of free or subsidized health care.”

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