Three St. Kitts and Nevis health ministers absent from 4th Council of OECS Health ministers meeting

Fort-de-France, Martinique, November 19, 2017 – Although St. Kitts and Nevis has three health ministers, none of them was present at last weekend’s fourth Council of OECS Health Ministers meeting in Martinique at which important matters were discussed to improve the healthcare of citizens and residents.
According to multiple sources, St. Kitts’ two health ministers, Hon. Eugene Hamilton and Hon. Wendy Phipps and Nevis’ Health Minister, Hon. Mark Brantley were all absent.
The two-day meeting examined ways to share scarce resources while improving access to health services for people of the sub-regional grouping.
“We are meeting here in Martinique at this critical time and Martinique has deliberately been chosen for this meeting because your health system is the most sophisticated in the OECS and there are many lessons to be learned from your best practices….a lesson of Irma and Maria is that alone we can do so little; together we can do so much,” OECS Director General Dr. Didacus Jules told the opening ceremony.
“Our geographic proximity is both a common vulnerability but it also enables us to respond with neighbourly urgency” Jules said, noting that the Caribbean had changed dramatically post Hurricane Maria and there were natural opportunities to collaborate to deliver better health outcomes across the OECS,
Last year, the St. Lucia-based OECS Commission spent an estimated EC$25 million through the OECS Pharmaceutical Service acquiring medical products.
The Commission said that as a result of the bulk purchase, it was able to save five million dollars for the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands.
OECS Health Ministers also evaluated the member states’ response to non-chronic communicable diseases (NCDs), health human resource sharing in the Eastern Caribbean Regional Health Information Strategy as well as health services cooperation in Martinique
The ministers also discussed the annual work programme of the OECS/Pharmaceutical Procurement Service and explored expanding the OECS/PPS product portfolio to include the pooled procurement of Laboratory supplies, particularly viral load reagents for monitoring People Living with HIV/AIDS.
The OECS commitment to solidarity in health was also formalised at the conclusion of the gathering with the Fort de France Declaration on Health.

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