Universal Healthcare On The Right Track
St Kitts Prime Minister Dr. Terrence Drew stated on Friday that universal health coverage (UHC) remains a “political and social imperative” for the twin-island Federation. He emphasized that it would continue to be a priority for his seven-month-old administration. “The team is working assiduously to determine the financing mechanisms needed to support the implementation of a sustainable national health insurance scheme,” said Prime Minister Drew, who also serves as the Minister of Health.
In a message to mark World Health Day (WHD), observed under the theme “Health for All,” Prime Minister Drew, a medical practitioner, said the fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is real. “NCDs, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer, are major contributors to morbidity and mortality and major obstacles to our attaining ‘Health for All,'” he noted. Since coming to office, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has strengthened the Health Promotion Unit by recruiting communications personnel and acquiring new production equipment.
“The MOH has scaled up its public education and health promotion campaigns using all media platforms to encourage a healthy lifestyle, prevention, and control of NCDs, screening, early detection, and treatment of cancers,” he said. The ministry conducts NCD clinics to provide comprehensive, integrated care for persons living with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, and other chronic conditions. However, he acknowledged that emerging infectious diseases like COVID-19 (#ad) had an unprecedented impact on the health system and the lives and livelihoods of people in the region.
“COVID-19 alone significantly delayed our progress towards ‘Health for All’ / Universal Healthcare. Re-emerging diseases like noro-virus are causing the current gastroenteritis outbreak,” he said. Prime Minister Drew urged everyone to play their part in controlling the outbreak by practicing proper hand hygiene. He also noted that re-emerging diseases like Chikungunya and Zika are circulating in Latin America and the Caribbean, and it is only a matter of time before they affect the Federation.
“Polio is a vaccine-preventable disease; however, a few cases have been identified in the region of the Americas,” he said. The Prime Minister promised to provide the resources needed to maintain high vaccination coverage rates. “We have accomplished much; however, it’s a journey, and we still have work to be done. I reaffirm my commitment to health sector improvement. The ultimate goal is to ensure the health and well-being of my people. Let us work together to attain ‘Health for All,'” Prime Minister Drew concluded.