Health care debate coming

Ministry wants national discussion on financing the sector

The Ministry of Health will be seeking Cabinet’s approval to initiate a national debate on health care financing.

Minister of Health John Boyce made the disclosure today at the launch of the Strategic Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases 2015 to 2019 at the Savannah Hotel, where he said non-communicable diseases (NCDs), as well as new and emerging threats like Ebola and Chikungunya were putting pressure on Government’s resources.

Minister of Health John Boyce.
Minister of Health John Boyce.

“The Ministry of Health is in the process of exploring options for more efficient methods of financing health care, which will call for more effective use of scarce resources, elimination of wastage and duplication, and understanding which services are best provided by Government and which services are best provided within the private sector,” he said.

At the same time, he promised, Government would maintain its commitment to protect the most vulnerable within the society, including the poor, the elderly and children.

Quoting from the report of the Chief Medical Officer, Boyce revealed that the leading causes of sickness and death in Barbados in the last 10 years were stroke, heart disease, diabetes mellitus and cancer. Additionally, 80 per cent of non-maternal health and non-child health visits at polyclinics were a result of non-communicable diseases.

Boyce further pointed out that a quarter of the Barbadian population has at least one non-communicable disease while another quarter is at risk of developing one.

That translates into 140,000 Barbadians either having or being at risk of developing a non-communicable disease in the near future.

The statistics further revealed that 65 per cent of the population was overweight or obese, with women twice more likely to fall into that category than men.

Minister Boyce also expressed concern about the school-age population, as statistics show that a third of them are either overweight or obese and half of them were engaged in low levels of physical activity and exercise.

“Many of the behavioural and biological risk factors for NCDs are initiated in the very young and in childhood. Therefore, our efforts must also target this vulnerable group if Barbados is to achieve the targets of 25 per cent reduction in premature mortality by 2025,” the minister said declared.

He acknowledged that Government was responsible for creating a supportive and enabling environment for the prevention and control of NCDs, but stressed that each Barbadian had a role to play as well.

“The NCD epidemic has the potential to reverse many of the social, economic and public health gains made by Barbados since Independence, and I therefore challenge all Barbadians to become more disciplined in our approach to the way we live, work and play,” he said.

“Let us today recommit ourselves as a nation to adopting healthy lifestyles that include daily exercise; using locally produced fruit and vegetables; consuming less salt, sugar, fat and foods which are high in cholesterol; moderating the use of alcohol; and abstaining from the use of all tobacco products.”

Source: (BGIS)

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