During the recent Budges 2011 Address – which was delivered by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Denzil L. Douglas – it was revealed that the allotted sum for the Ministry of Health for use in 2011 is comparative to that of 2010.
Dr. Douglas stated that the Ministry of Health would receive an allocation of $34,916,553 comprising $33,919,253 for Recurrent Expenditure and $997,300 for Capital Expenditure.
“My government holds the view that high quality health care is a sacred right to which every citizen of our beloved Federation is entitled,” Prime Minister Douglas stated. “This is why even though we are facing austere economic challenges, we have decided, just as in the case of the Ministry of Education and Information, not to reduce the Ministry of Health’s allocation for 2011.”
The leader of the Federation noted that the National Health Plan would continue to be implemented and that prevention of lifestyle diseases such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, hypertension and obesity would be emphasized. He also mentioned the seven key areas of focus namely Non-Communicable Diseases and Physical Activity, Health and Environment, Family Health, Health System Development, Mental Health and Substance Abuse, HIV/AIDS and STDs and Human Resource Development.
During her budget debate presentation on 16th December, 2010, Minister of Health Marcella Liburd made the point that the best mode of action is always prevention. She went on to explain that this would benefit the individual as well as the Federation as a whole due to the fact that healthcare is very costly. The Minister of Health detailed this fact by revealing that it cost $2,000 per hour to run the local medical institutions including the Joseph N. France General and Mary Charles Hospitals and Pogson Medical Centre. She further noted that this cost increases to $3,000 per hour when it involves the rapid intensive care that has to be given to gunshot victims.
Minister Liburd reminded that Government continues to provide medication, free of cost, to persons with long term communicable and non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and HIV/AIDS. She also made the distinction that, annually, it costs government $265 in medication for one diabetic patient; while over the same period it cost $3,060 to maintain one person living with HIV. She further clenched her point concerning prevention, by noting that the interventions utilized by her Ministry has helped persons living with the later to have a longer and more productive life. A happy, healthy and productive life is the ultimate goal of Government that is why the cost is a non-issue.
National AIDS Coordinator Gardenia Destang-Richardson concurred that prevention is key to the National AIDS Secretariat’s success and explained that one of the goals for 2011 is to intensify their prevention strategy.
“If we keep persons from getting infected then we are doing our job more efficiently,” The Coordinator emphasized. “The idea is, the less persons infected, the better for you and the better for us.”
She explained that the prevention strategy would include capacity building, training, outreach activities, engaging public and private sector support, more education and awareness activities as well as greater media involvement.
“We can’t do the wait and see approach, we have to attack it [HIV/AIDS] and deal with it from the get-go,” Mrs. Richardson stressed. “That’s so that we don’t find ourselves in the situation where we say if only we had done.”