By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – The government of Saint Lucia has begun taking steps toward achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) with the aim of improving health systems and ensuring that affordable and quality health care is provided to Saint Lucians, says a report by Fernelle Neptune, Ministry of Health, (MOH).
“A committee comprising professionals within the ministry of health and professionals within the public sector met recently in a consultation focused on the development of a roadmap to outline the strategic direction of UHC in Saint Lucia.” In addition, “acting permanent secretary in the MOH, Jenny Daniel, says this consultation will provide the opportunity for participants to develop a “white paper” which will shape the plan for the implementation of UHC.”
The St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) manifesto health policy reads:
“A Saint Lucia Labour Party government will pursue a health policy that is patient-centered, evidenced-based, equitable, accessible and affordable. The main focus of our health policy will be as follows:
“There will be no privatization of Saint Lucia’s public health care services, however, a Labour government will incentivize the provision of private health care services not publicly available, in order to enhance the level of health services on island.
“Universal Health Care will be implemented within the first term of a Labour Party government.
“ The St Jude hospital will be reopened within the shortest possible time.
“ The OKEU Hospital will be adequately resourced with proper emergency services.
“ We shall make the employment of all eligible contracted nurses and doctors permanent.
According to the MOH press release Monday, September 5:
“The white paper basically speaks to the policy, the major overriding and overarching policy that will determine how UHC is to be implemented in Saint Lucia, as in what is our starting point and where is the vision, where we would like to go, the place we would like to get to in terms of the provision of our health services and the impact it will have on Saint Lucians.” So, the white paper is basically a structured document that will outline what are our goals, objectives and vision and objectives for UHC and how exactly we expect to get there. We also touched on funding or financing of the initiatives and project and exactly where we will be and giving a proper time frame for it as well.”
Reportedly, Daniel also highlighted that in the coming weeks, a series of consultations will be undertaken with the private sector, non-governmental organizations NGOs and client group stakeholders. And relative to the government’s commitment to improve health service coverage for the Saint Lucian population, minister for health, wellness and elderly affairs, Moses Jn Baptiste, noted:
“We have also taken the recommendation of the ministry that we create a specific unit for the Universal Health Coverage program and we have created that unit and we are currently looking to staff that unit to ensure we have focused attention on Universal Health Coverage. We believe it is very important for the people of Saint Lucia. When we look at our disease profile and the challenges that we have in health care and also when we look at the cost of health care, we know that the people of Saint Lucia require that kind of assistance.”
The cabinet is said to have approved the first phase of the implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which will commence with the Performance Based Financing component.
Meanwhile, the government says it is adapting to social-economic shocks, part of the new national social protection policy.
“Shock responsive social protection is a special form of social protection where you adapt your current social protection programs to prepare for, mitigate and respond to co-variant shocks. Co-variant shocks affect large sections of the population, perhaps even an entire region – things like hurricanes, natural disasters or even the recent pandemic,” reports Jacques Hinkson-Compton, Government Information Service, (GIS).