Sir Henry supports a new payment system for health care and education

“If a country is bankrupt how can we continue to provide freeness all around?”

That’s the question retired Professor of Medicine and former Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, Sir Henry Fraser believes Barbadians seriously need to ponder in the face of ongoing debate over whether they should be made to pay for health care and education services.

Sir Henry, who has retired from the medical profession after serving for almost five decades, is all for Barbadians paying for their health care.

He also told Barbados TODAY it was about time the entire system was “rethought and revamped”.

Sir Henry Fraser
Sir Henry Fraser

“You have to pay for it one way or the other. We are not having that discussion. There needs to be a greater deal of that public discussion, which the university is trying to set in train with the Barbados Museum in the recent lecture series on the development of health care in Barbados,” he said.

The professor emeritus of the UWI said while he was ready and willing to lend his expertise to the health care system, so far he had not been invited to any such discussions or planning sessions.

“I certainly haven’t been invited to get involved in these discussions but health care needs to be discussed,” he said, noting that in his years of practice he had accumulated “a few ideas about how medicine has and should and can operate”.

In recent times Government has hinted that Barbadians may have to start paying for public health care services.

The Government has also suggested that there will be privatization of some aspects of the system.

However, with the National Budget now mere weeks away on June 15, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has already given the assurance that the Freundel Stuart administration would not be rushing ahead with any changes to the health system.

And earlier this month, eminent medical practitioner Sir Errol Walrond said he was against any move to privatize health         care in Barbados.

Sir Errol warned that any such move would erode all the public advances made during the past 50 years, adding that what was needed instead was more emphasis to be placed on maintenance of the current public health care system, and attention given to prevention and lifestyle changes as the way forward.

However, Sir Henry, who also supports the recent move by Government to have Barbadians pay their tuition at the UWI, was firmly of the view that “we are not having enough of that serious sit down discussion between the relevant parties” on the matter of health care.

“That discussion is urgently needed,” the independent Senator stressed, adding that he had been saying so in the Upper Chamber for a while now.

As to the issue of financing of education, Sir Henry said that “a significant part” of it could be done through loans, pointing out that “if a country is bankrupt how can we continue to provide freeness all around?”

Since the implementation of tuition fees for Barbadians at the UWI last year, there has been an outcry in certain quarters.

However, Sir Henry said: “We sometimes live in an isolated cocoon in Barbados and we often act as if Barbados was the only world.

“Bishop [John] Mitchinson some 150 years ago offended Barbadians by saying that, ‘Barbadians were like the white snails in Alice in Wonderland living under the stones and thinking that was the entire world’,” he said.

“We are like that because all over the western world most students who are not the sons and daughters of the small numbers of wealthy people do have to invest in their future by taking loans and working during the vacation. That is not always easy in a small country,” he added.

Pointing out that the banks have come forward with a number of loan arrangements for tertiary studies, Sir Henry said he did not think the university, the Government and the banks were “taking advantage of publicizing the availability of low interest loans for students”.

In addition, Sir Henry said there should be greater collaboration between Government, the administrators of tertiary institutions and the private sector to create areas of study for which the job market required the skills.

“The old saying is, ‘cheapness aren’t no good and freeness is not appreciated’. That is what Barbadians have always known,” insisted Sir Henry.

“We have reached a point in Barbados where we have not meshed the nature of our tertiary education with the available with jobs. And the dramatic expansion of the University of the West Indies is wonderful, but it has not gone hand in hand with a dramatic expansion of opportunities for graduates from the University of the West Indies,” he added.

12 Responses to YES SIR!

  1. Matthew Greaves
    Matthew Greaves May 29, 2015 at 2:05 am

    But it can’t be bankrupt when the minister of finance and the central bank govenor saying all is well and the country is stable and the umemployment rate is 12.3per cent when it is 19 or 20 percent

  2. Marty Pitt May 29, 2015 at 7:25 am

    Let me ask if the country is bankrupt how are members of parliament being paid and how come ministers are always travelling.

  3. Samuel Morrison May 29, 2015 at 7:55 am

    what level of stupidity from these first two commentators. Ignorance seems to know no bounds. Marty Pity, Matthew Greaves if you do not understand anything shut up and learn something.

  4. zeus May 29, 2015 at 8:05 am

    Samuel thanks products of free education …I am surprise he has not been cuss yet for trying to fly in the face of the “great “sir Hillary like the pm but then again he is a black broad nose man who some in this country believed should not be pm of this country

  5. Patrick Blackman May 29, 2015 at 8:46 am

    What we are missing here is that this is a general policy for the region. The international community has seen that there is great potential to make money in the region on basic services and have been pressuring the islands to privatise these services. The IMF & World Bank are the chief proponents of this kind of crap.

    They squeeze the government with their conditionalities when financing supposed development project to let their corporations enter the regional markets. THe intent is to eventually have all the islands in the same state as Jamaica. We need to fight this crap at every step. Some months ago, we had Ms Mottley talking this same crap about the transport board.

    We have totally lost control of the Light & Power, next the hospital ( this was intentional) as a precusor to privitization. Keep your eyes open and be on guard, the people you think are working for you and the country are certainly not.

  6. ken May 29, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    Senator Fraser, I respect you but are you making an announcement that is reserved for the Prime minister? Are you speaking on his behalf because he refuses to say anything to the people of this nation? As far as I know and I may be wrong but isn’t bankruptcy supposed to be declared? Maybe that disrespectful prime minister declared to you only and not the other 299,999 residents of this nation.

    • ken May 29, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      I just asked my mother and she told me that she doesn’t know that the country is bankrupted, so Freudel, along with senator Fraser you may probably need to tell her too. That would make 2 out of 300,000 people that you can speak to.

  7. Patrick Blackman May 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    @ken: Guy, you have some issues man…

    • ken May 29, 2015 at 5:18 pm

      According to you. I know the source of your comment Patrick, so coming from you I am not worried. Apparently you have way more issues than you claim I have.

  8. Patrick Blackman May 29, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    Cool, I am working on them day by day sir… wish me luck and with god’s blessing I will conquer them… Peace be with you my brother.

  9. ryan dan May 29, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    Samuel Morrison u got to be a mp u sound just like one a them

  10. Alex3 June 4, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Whether you pay for it through the tax system, by direct premiums or by a combination of both, Barbadians pay for their healthcare.
    There is no magic here. Governments around the world do not engage in enterprise as a means of generating the monies required to provide services to their citizens.
    Their only source of funding is through taxation.
    I respect Mr. Fraser’s service and expertise but in reality what he is saying is Barbados needs to levy a new tax directed at healthcare as a premium such that Mr. Sinclair has a new pool of money to use as he sees fit with no guarantee that it will be focused on healthcare.
    In the process, those who cannot afford to pay the premiums or the tax will end up like 43 million Americans who prior to Obamacare had no healthcare insurance and many still don’t.
    In Canada we do not have free healthcare. We have universal access but we pay taxes as well as a premium for the services I
    f you go outside your home province you have the same access but will be charged the difference between what the province you are visiting charges non-residents and what your home province covers.


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