Healthcare For All Is An Investment Not A Cost, Says Virgins Health Minister.

File photo. After surviving in its original 1922 building for nearly 90 years, the Government embarked upon an ambitious attempt to build a new hospital complex immediately behind the existing hospital. The new hospital was originally budgeted at approximately US$10 million, and expected to take just under 2 years to construct. In the event, the hospital cost well over US$100 million to construct and was opened in 2014.
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By Editor-July 11th, 2023.

BVI Minister for Health and Social Development Vincent O. Wheatley has said that health is an investment in the people and development of the Territory.

In a statement at the Second Sitting of the First Session of the Fifth House of Assembly Wheatley stated that it is important to not view health as a cost to society and the public purse, but more of an investment in the Virgin Islands’ greatest and most important resource.

The Minister was reporting to the House on the recently attended Ministerial Conference on Chronic Diseases and Mental Health organised by the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and World Health Organization (WHO) Small Island Developing States in Barbados from June 11 to the 16.

Minister Wheatley said, “The WHO’s Universal Health Care Strategy, underscores the importance of ensuring equitable access to health care.  It is imperative for us to ensure that appropriate, needed, health care is accessible without bias.”

The Minister added, “Without healthy people we do not have productive people.  Without productive people we do not have a productive economy.  Without these we cannot develop as a Territory.  Interestingly enough, healthy people are also a sign of a thriving economy and well developed Territory.  The two-go hand in hand.”

Wheatley said the conference highlighted the need to involve all sectors of Government, civil society, and both service users and persons with lived experiences in the process of making policy and developing and evaluating programmes.

“Government cannot act alone and where commercial activity is having negative impacts on health the sector must be engaged as vigorously as when we engage them on positive matters,” the Minister for Health said.

“The actions that negatively affect health and those required to positively impact health are not only in the Health Sector but also in every sector of Government and society.  Hence a whole of society approach is needed, he added.”

Wheatley admitted that as the new Minister for Health, the exposure to best practices and networking with colleagues from SIDS around the world was invaluable.

During his time in Barbados, he also visited the Winston Scott Polyclinic in Bridgetown and observed primary health care in action.

The Minister also met with the director of the Chronic Disease Research Center and took time to visit St. Michael’s College, the premier secondary school in Bridgetown and discussed with the principal on how programmes such as Health and Family Life Education were incorporated across the curriculum, and other health promoting interventions.

Healthcare in the BVI.

Healthcare in the British Virgin Islands is predominantly provided by private healthcare providers with an overlay of public support. There is a single public hospital in the BVI–Peebles Hospital in Road Town on Tortola.

Under the Public Hospital Ordinance (Cap 195) free medical treatment is available at all public facilities to the elderly (being persons who are 65 or older), children (being persons aged 16 or under), police officers, firemen, prison officers, public health workers, the mentally ill, indigent persons and prisoners.

All other persons must pay for medical treatment received from public health care facilities, although the cost of health care is usually less expensive than from private health care providers.

Sources: BVI Government. Wikipedia.
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