Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis, March 9, 2023 [Press Secretary, PMO]: Prime Minister and Minister of Health, the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew, joined several senior health officials in St. Kitts and Nevis and other stakeholders at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort yesterday (Wednesday, March 08) for a meeting with representatives from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
The meeting’s agenda focused on ‘Transforming the Health Systems of St. Kitts and Nevis with a focus on Health Financing’. Among the topics discussed were Universal Health Insurance and the building of the new smart hospital.
Present at the meeting were Dr. Amalia Del Riego, PAHO/World Health Organization’s Representative (PWR), from PAHO’s Eastern Caribbean Office; Dr. Guillermo Sandoval Advisor, Health Economics and Financing Office of the Subregional Programme Coordination, Caribbean Pan American Health Organization – World Health Organization; Senator with ministerial responsibility for Health et. Al. for the Nevis Island Administration (NIA), Hon. Jahnel Nisbett; Special Adviser to the Ministry of Health, Dr. Patrick Martin; Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Hazel Laws; Permanent Secretary (Ag) in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sharon Archibald; Permanent Secretary (Ag) in the Ministry of Social Development and Gender Affairs, Ms. Azilla Clarke; Director of Health Institutions, Dr. Jenson Morton; and several other senior health officials and stakeholders.
In his opening statement, Prime Minister Dr. Drew outlined the Government’s vision of providing affordable and quality healthcare within the Federation with “the ultimate goal” being “to strengthen the health system and to ensure health service is accessible to all”.
“My government is committed to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) where-by all people of the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis have access to the full range of quality health services without financial hardship. It is our aim to ultimately offer the full continuum of essential health services including health promotion, preventive services, treatment, rehabilitative and palliative services. This is my first term and first budget cycle, and I am already increasing public financing for health,” said Prime Minister and Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew.
Saint Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister and Minister of Health informed the attendees that “in 2023, we will be embarking on one of the biggest capital projects ever undertaken in the health sector – the erection of a brand new, smart hospital, one in which structural and operational safety are linked along with the relevant green interventions to ensure disaster resilience.”
The Minister of Health added that “It is the obligation of the Ministry of Health and the Government to implement a strong national health insurance scheme that assures equitable and universal access for all residents of St. Kitts and Nevis to an acceptable package of health services in a phased manner, ensuring efficiency in the delivery of health services including the improvement of procurement processes for drugs, medical supplies, and equipment, and to eliminate direct payment at the point of care that often act as a barrier to access.”
He also reinforced the significance of fostering partnerships stating that it is imperative that regional partners such as PAHO are actively engaged to ensure that the national objective is achieved.
Dr. Amalia Del Riego reiterated PAHO’s commitment to supporting the Federation in the attainment of Universal Access to Health and Universal Health Coverage, adding that “Health is a right”.
A comprehensive update on the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme, its core components, and its implementation status was provided by the Special Advisor to the Ministry of Health, Dr. Patrick Martin. He mentioned that “National Health Insurance universal healthcare coverage will be rolled out over a period of time, in a phased approach”.
He added, “Consultations will continue as we continue to work on this initiative. Consultations will be held with the Ministry of Finance, the Social Security Board, Industry and Commerce, the various Labour Unions, Private Insurance companies, Statisticians, and the Media”.
Dr. Sandoval enlightened the attendees about the evidence involved in health financing reform and outlined the health services coordination and success factors that are required in achieving the necessary health reform and successful rollout of NHI. He stated that “public engagement, the multi-stakeholder approach, dedicated human resources, and quality data” are needed to inform decisions.
The Prime Minister and Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew thanked the attendees for their insightful contributions and the fruitful discussions that ensued regarding the National Health Insurance stating that “We have concurred on the priority areas and activities to move this initiative forward. We look forward to continued cooperation with PAHO.”
According to the Minister of Health, several town hall meetings will take place within various communities to explain the NHI scheme to the people of Saint Kitts and Nevis to get their buy-in.