NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (August 16, 2013) –The Nevis Island Administration (NIA) intends to hold true to its pledge to work toward every Nevisian resident having some type of medical insurance, said Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Hon. Mark Brantley as he made an address which was aired on Nevis Television Channel 8 on August 13, 2013, to report on the state of health on the island.
Minister Brantley—whose report spanned the period February to July 2013 and highlighted matters pertaining to health promotion and prevention, human resource development, health research, access to healthcare, service expansion and partnerships in health—described the issue of health coverage as a very serious matter.
“We want to avoid people having to beg and borrow money for needed care that is not available on-island or in-country. Further details will be given as soon as the preparatory work is done. I give the assurance that there will be full public discussion on the benefits and responsibilities associated with national medical insurance,” he said.
According to the Health Minister, Nevis had been facing a challenge because of the increase in major medical and, in some instances, catastrophic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, violence-related injuries, and kidney and eye disease.
“The fact is that some in Nevis choose to engage in the same unhealthy eating, drinking, smoking and sexual lifestyles as do persons elsewhere, however, when catastrophe strikes, we have a much greater struggle to access specialist care and to pay for the high technology procedures, medicines and other therapies.
“Between 2010 and 2012, we have recorded a frightening average of 25 new cancer patients per year…On the contrary, the cost of cancer protection and prevention such as pap smears, condoms, vaccination, eating a plant-based diet, consuming little or no alcohol, and not smoking, is much, much less,” Minister Brantley said.
Meantime, he made an appeal to Nevisians to consider obtaining medical insurance for themselves and their families, as he noted that a recent study, conducted by the Ministry of Health in conjunction with the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, had found that at least 30 per cent of persons in the Federation have private medical insurance.
“It is a good thing that some residents are putting money aside for medical needs…. I implore our people to seek to get healthcare coverage for themselves and their families as we never know when illness may strike.
“I also want to express appreciation to members of the general public for their rallying to the call to live healthier lifestyles. People are endeavouring to eat healthier and exercise more regularly. These good practices will redound to the benefit of the health of our island,” the Health Minister said.
Minister Brantley’s report also noted progress made by the Ministry of Health with respect to institutional strengthening.
“A laboratory technologist has commenced training in the field of cytology which will ultimately strengthen our cervical cancer screening capacity. A Food and Nutrition specialist is now attached to the School Meals and other feeding programmes facilitated by the Nevis Island Administration. The physician complement has expanded to include the services of an internist/cardiologist. By September 2013, we also welcome a dual specialist in the fields of Emergency Medicine and Orthopedics and also an additional general practitioner.
“We are currently in the process of sourcing equipment, furniture and fittings for the now completed urology centre at the Alexandra Hospital and hope to be in a position to open that service fully very soon to the Nevisian public,” he said.
He also disclosed that the interaction between his Ministry and a group of residents of Nevis had resulted in the anonymous donation of US $20,000 to secure a van for the Mental Health Unit and recorded the Ministry’s gratitude for the generous donation.
According to Mr. Brantley, the Ministry of Health continued to work with partners in bringing care to the citizens and residents of Nevis in a safe and reliable manner.