By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – Political leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has re-emphasised that “a Universal Health Care (UHC) system will be established by the Saint Lucia Labour Party when it gets into office,” expectedly in 2021.
“The crucial element of the UHC system was the creation of a basket of services, including health insurance, which citizens would have been able to access, with the greater part of the cost of these services being borne by the government,” said Pierre. […] “the SLP lost the elections of June 2016 and the Allen Chastanet United Worker Party (UWP) government discontinued the work on the SLP plan, to the detriment of the country.”
Addressing the 70th annual conference of delegates of the SLP virtual conference Sunday, November 15, 2020, Pierre affirmed: “Universal access to health care remains a priority of a labour government and we shall continue the process we started since we were last in office to establish UHC. We believe that accessible and affordable health care is the greatest priority of an SLP government.”
The SLP political leader assurance is established on the backdrop that during the SLP 2011-2016 term in office, the administration completed extensive studies and planning on the establishment of UHC in Saint Lucia. Some aspects of the SLP UHC plan were already in place with persons suffering from disease like diabetes and hypertension, receiving free medication. In addition, Pierre said: “As part of our health care system, we shall encourage and support healthy lifestyles as a complementary health policy initiative, because too many of our citizens suffer from non-commutable diseases like hypertension and diabetes.”
Continuing the UHC plan, Pierre added: “Heath and wellness Centres around the island were either improved and new ones constructed. St Jude hospital re-development was nearing completion and the Owen King European Union (OKEU) hospital was in an advanced stage of being commissioned.”
Regrettably, the UWP administration stopped St Jude re-development and OKEU commissioning only to reconfigured OKEU with the intent of private enterprise. However, COVID-19 forced the UWP government hands, that now constitutes a mix and match OKEU health system.
The SLP leader continues to express disappointment with the health care system in Saint Lucia, referring in particular to the island’s two major hospitals.
“The state of health care in Saint Lucia remains a source of concern and disappointment, in particular the lack of progress at the St Jude hospital, which is no closer to completion than it was four and a half years ago. Upon coming into office, a labour government will waste no time in having St Jude hospital completed. Too much time and resources have been spent on this project. The people of Saint Lucia, particularly the residents of the south, deserve better,” the political leader said.
And while there are expressed appreciation that OKEU has finally become operational and has, at least for now, avoided the threat of being run by a private entity: “We shall ensure that the running of OKEU is not privatized and remains under the control and management of the government and people of Saint Lucia,” Pierre advised.