Govt urged to keep basic healthcare free
With indications that Barbadians will have to pay for health care in the future, a former top official in the Ministry of Health is adamant that basic services should remain free for all.
Dr Elizabeth Ferdinand, the recently retired acting chief medical officer, told Barbados TODAY that while there are consultations over changes to the country’s healthcare policy, it is vital that Barbadians should not be made to pay for services such as immunizations, antenatal and post natal care, or treatment for chronic diseases, among others.
“So whatever they do, they need to make sure that whoever needs it can get it, and those who can’t pay must get it. So they have to look at whether it is going to be insurance, fee for service or whatever they are going to do, to make sure all Barbadians receive basic healthcare,” she said.
In light of the country’s burdensome healthcare bill, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart recently sought to put the country on notice of a coming change in payment policy at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Speaking at the recent annual conference of the ruling Democratic Labour Party, Stuart said those people who can afford to pay for healthcare will have to do so.
Ferdinand did acknowledge that the Government had to find the money to maintain and improve the current level of care from somewhere.
However, she insisted, means other than asking all Barbadians to pay had to be found.
“We want to continue to have top notch healthcare, but because of the financial situation, the country has found itself in problems. So the planners and financial entities are going to have to find innovative ways to supplement healthcare in Barbados while looking at means of conserving and being more efficient in functioning,” she said.
“We have a very good system but there is always room for improvement. Even in the Caribbean, there is no country that has what we have. Where can people who have AIDS get their medication free? Where can diabetics and hypertensives get their treatment free?”
Nevertheless, Ferdinand, who retired just over two weeks ago, called on Barbadians to be responsible and play their part in preserving their health and cutting the country’s healthcare bill by practising healthy habits.
“People have to contribute to their own wellness and then the state will help to keep them [healthy],” she said.