CHARLESTOWN, Nevis - NEVIS’ Junior Health Minister, Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams has declared that 70 percent of the Federation’s population is uninsured and many people are moving to government for assistance.
In her speech to recognise April 7 as World Health Day, the Minister emphasised that out of pocket expenditure totals over 50 percent of the Federation’s health expenditure.
“In St. Kitts and Nevis, it is estimated that 70 percent of our population is uninsured and many individuals and their families resort to approaching government for medical assistance. Our National Health Accounts Report in 2011 revealed that household out-of-pocket spending accounted for 55 percent of total health expenditure, and persons still don’t seek access to certain health services because of their inability to pay.”
According to Brandy-Williams, the theme for 2019 is “Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere”, which is a timely note since the Federation is undertaking moves towards advancing the implementation of Universal Health Care for citizens and residents.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) noted that the objectives of Universal Health Coverage is to provide every member of society with equitable access to quality health services irrespective of age, gender, race, pre-existing health conditions or socio-economic status.
The Nevis Island Administration Minister explained that as a country, the consideration of Universal Health Coverage is a major health reform initiative.
“We have embarked on the journey towards implementation with circulation of the Green Paper and by engaging in widespread public consultation. The provision of UHC will outline not only what services are covered but also how they are financed, managed and delivered. The access to basic health services is not only crucial for maintaining and improving the population’s health, but its rippling effects go well beyond the realm of health itself,”
The Minister said that good health is essential to sustained economic and social development as well as to alleviate poverty, adding that “the implementation of this initiative will no doubt bring a ray of hope of better health and protection, especially for the poorest amongst us”.
Brandy-Williams suggested that investing in health not only saves lives, but it is also a crucial indirect investment in the wider economy, adding that ill-health impedes productivity, hinders job prospects and adversely affects human capital development.
“As a Government, we recognise that a firm political commitment to the provision of Universal Health Care can bring about not only greater equity but also much larger overall health, social and economic achievement for our nation,” she emphasised.