There may be no cut in Govt health spending

Government spending on health care may not be reduced with the introduction of a National Health Accounts (NHA) system.

What it will do, says Professor Karl Theodore, who is one of the main people behind the initiative, is ensure equitable distribution of funds.

“It’s really helping to make sure that the spending is where you want it to be, because you may find there’s an area you’re not spending enough on; so you may have to spend more.

“What will likely happen is that it may help Government to shift spending from one area to the next, that’s the most important results that we’ve got in most of the countries and . . . that will most likely happen here,” said the director for health economics at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad.

Theodore was among officials attending a USAID-funded workshop on the NHA, held at the Savannah Beach Hotel today. In his remarks to participants, he said the economic challenges facing Barbados should not deter Government from implementing the system.

Participants in the National Health Accounts Workshop. 
Participants in the National Health Accounts Workshop.

In fact, he believes this is precisely the reason to introduce the initiative in order to track where the funds are coming from and what they are being spent on.

“That’s important, especially in a context where resources are scarce. We have to be clear that we’re spending only what we should be spending and that is why you need a system that tells you what you’re spending on because if it turns out you are spending on something that is not important then it means that you are really spending more than you should be. Then we have to ask, ‘Is the spending happening in a way that is fair? Is everybody being treated fairly?’,” he later told reporters.

Data collection takes place between June and October with household surveys due between August and October. The findings are expected to be released
in December.

“We’re looking for all the people who are giving funds to the system, also the donors, the insurance companies . . . and other NGOs, so it’s the agencies that provide the funds, that is the information that we need to get early but the most important part of the survey is the second part, the household information.

“In Barbados, there are two levels of households that we are going to be looking at. We’ll be looking at households generally and households with somebody with HIV/AIDS,” Theodore said.

The NHA has been implemented in Dominica and St Kitts and is also being applied in St Vincent.

Meanwhile, acting mission director of USAID, Jonathan Conly, told participants that foreign aid could not be the driving force to development and would only provide limited resources to assist countries. He was firm that the people themselves must drive initiatives such as the NHA.


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