29th Meeting of the Health Policy Board Stresses the Importance of OECS Integration

Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 23, 2015 (SKNIS): Emerging and recurring health- related issues such as non-communicable diseases and the impact of climate change on the health care system were key issues discussed at the 29th Meeting of the Health Policy Board and Ministers of Health which concluded in St. Kitts on October 22 at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort Conference Room.
Special attention was also paid to goals to eliminate HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis by the year 2020.

The meeting which was convened on Wednesday October 21, brought together Health Ministers from the OECS, namely, Honourable Evans Mc Neil Rogers, Minister of Health, Education and Social Development for Anguilla; Dr. the Honourable Kenneth Darroux, Minister of Health and Environment for the Commonwealth of Dominica ; Honourable Molwyn Joseph, Minister of Health and the Environment of Antigua and Barbuda along with Director of Social and Sustainable Development of the OECS, Bentley Browne; and Dr James St. Catherine, Head of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) HIV/AIDS Project Unit (HAPU) , for high level discussions on issues pertinent to health care systems in the sub- region.

Members focused on the importance of integration of the Members States of the sub-region. According to the Hon. Evans Mc Neil Rogers, of Anguilla, “Health Care is everybody’s business,” hence the aim of meetings such as these is to ensure that the people of the region have the best health care possible. He explained that resources are stretched and Member States often compete for the same finances from donors. He is of the view that a deeper level of collaboration between Member States and the pooling of resources will yield greater results.

The Ministers also discussed the development of what was termed “Centres of Excellence,” throughout the sub- region. The Honourable Molwyn Joseph of Antigua and Barbuda revealed that the Eastern Caribbean Cancer Centre in St John’s, Antigua is a model of a Centre of Excellence. He revealed that this centre is of extreme importance to the people of the region as treatment is provided at half the cost one will be forced to pay in other territories.

Dr. the Hon. Kenneth Darroux of the Commonwealth of Dominica, adding to the discussion, noted that these centres will enhance the product of Member States. The minister noted that Health Tourism is a market that the sub region can benefit from.

The OECS Health Ministers expressed gratitude to the Pan America Health Organization (PAHO) for a presentation made on Health Information Systems. According to the ministers, during the presentation, PAHO also spoke to the need for integration and suggested a standardized health insurance for members of the OECS.

The 30th meeting of the Health Policy Board and Ministers of Health is scheduled for 2016 and will be chaired by the Commonwealth of Dominica.

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