Basseterre, St Kitts – Prime Minister Dr Terrance Drew on Friday said that universal health coverage (UHC) remains a “political and social imperative” for the twin-island Federation and would remain 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 Drew, who is also the Minister of Health.
In a message to mark World Health Day (WHD), which is being observed under the theme “Health for All”, Drew, a medical practitioner said, that the fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) was real.
“The 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 said, noting that since coming to office the Ministry of Health (MOH) has strengthened the Health Promotion Unit by recruiting a 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 healthy lifestyle, prevention, and control of NCDs, screening, early detection and treatment of cancers,” he said. The ministry also conducts NCD clinics to provide comprehensive, integrated care for persons living with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease and other chronic conditions.
But he said emerging infectious diseases like COVID-19 had an unprecedented impact on the health system, and the lives and livelihoods of people here.
“COVID -19 alone significantly delayed our progress towards “Health for All”. Re-emerging diseases like norovirus is the pathogen causing the current gastroenteritis outbreak,” he said, adding “we are all responsible for playing our part in controlling this outbreak by practicing proper hand hygiene”.
Prime Minister Drew said other re-emerging diseases like chikungunya and zika are circulating in Latin America and the Caribbean, “and it is just a matter of time before we are affected.
“Poliomyelitis is a vaccine preventable diseases, however, a few cases have been identified in the region of the Americas,” he said promising to provide the resources 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 wellbeing of my people. Let us work together to attain “Health for All,” Prime Minister Drew added. (CMC)