Responding to critical comments made by a supporter of the NRP, Hon. Mark Brantley outlined some of the progress made in the health sector since he was appointed Minister. He said he viewed the individual’s query about the state of health care in Nevis as important, since healthcare is critical to the development of any country. Brantley never-the-less retorted, “I am so happy at the new interest on the NRP in healthcare. Sadly such interest was not obvious when you were recently in government but better late than never.”He outlined having met a chronic shortage of nurses and other health practitioners and the corrective steps the CCM-led NIA took to alleviate the problem. “We hired three new doctors, an internist, a cardiologist, and an orthopedic surgeon,”Brantley said. “We have brought back several retired Nevisian nurses to fill that void. We are also encouraging young people to take up nursing as a career and are funding such studies. We have nurses pursuing higher training now with governmental assistance . “Assistance with funding for health-related studies was also offered by the former government according to past minister of health, Hensley Daniel. “17 doctors were in training, all with funding from the ministry of health,”he told the Observer. “We took the bull by the horns and trained persons in St. Kitts.”Brantley pointed out that communities were also equipped with better health centres and other facilities. “I met a dilapidated health centre in Cotton Ground and moved it into the community centre to the satisfaction of the public and the staff. I met an empty room at the Brown Hill health centre and started the district pharmacy program as a pilot project. Qualified Brown Hillians and others can now access medication without having to come to town. “Daniel also credited the NRP for this project stating that NRP constructed the new health centre in Brown Hill with the pharmacy facilities. The CCM-led NIA has ensured that school-aged children remain healthy by providing them with well-balanced meals, informed the Minister. “We hired a master chef for the school meals program so that even greater focus could be had on the nutritional content of the meals our children eat,”Brantley said. “He is also providing training in food handling, preparation and proper servings.”Eye care was another area that saw improvement under the new Minister. “We continue the partnership with the eye care program and Dr. Hobde and just realized over US$100,000 worth of cutting edge eye surgical and other equipment for free. The most sophisticated eye care is now offered right here on Nevis,”Brantley boasted. The issue of dialysis continues to be a source of contention in Nevis however Brantley says the NIA has found a reliable partner to help solve the problem. “We are now finalizing plans for a new lab facility and diagnostic centre and have finally, we think, found a reliable partner on the vexed issue of dialysis ,”he said without revealing specifics. He went on, “We are presently conducting a study on HPV as the cause of cervical cancer, with the goal of eradicating deaths from cervical cancer in Nevis over the next several years.”Daniel stated that the NRP laid the groundwork for dialysis. “We introduced heart monitors and two dialysis units so that persons do not have to go to Antigua,”he said. Daniel told of past discussions and hopeful initiatives which had been side-lined by the 2013 election. “We developed arrangements with Cuba so that persons with no health insurance could receive medical care,”he said “Persons with health insurance could travel to Panama where there are nice facilities.”He indicated that a cosmetology centre had been planned. “We were 95% in discussions about the cosmetology center. Leading doctors were already on board and there would have been a CT and MRI machine so that people in the federation could have access to these services.”The present minister touched on a national health insurance scheme. “Just next week we convene meetings with insurers to discuss the long promised health insurance.”He noted that Nevis was also part of a study on childhood asthma and an important paper was published coauthored by Nevis’ own Permanent Secretary in Health. Training for all staff in customer service and the interaction with the public is also being conducted, said Brantley and care for the elderly is being looked at and minimum standards developed. He spoke of ‘beefing up”health promotion and education “as we believe that a dollar of prevention is worth a million dollars of cure”. Brantley strides in healthcare “may not be sexy or obvious”but there is tremendous work happening. “Our public health is working well,”he avowed.