MINISTRY OF HEALTH TO WIDEN CO-OPERATION WITH CUBA The Ministry of Health is moving to overcome some of the challenges faced in the Sector. Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, Minister Rupert Herbert outlined some of the initiatives being implemented and explored to counter the rising cost of health care, in particular widening co-operation with the Government of Cuba. “First of all, is the reactivation of the Miracle Eye Program which we had here a few years ago, and which did such value to our people. Two – the possible purchasing of certain pharmaceuticals from Cuba…if quality and costs are acceptable to us. Thirdly, a mechanism for the referral of patients from the federation to Cuba, to Cuban hospitals, to access treatment, including certain surgical procedures, and these of course in some specialized areas where we can’t cope with here in St. Kitts and Nevis. “An agreement facilitating this was signed by the Cuban Minister of Health and myself during my recent visit to Cuba. Four – continued training of specialists in Cuba, so as to reduce and eventually end, our dependence on foreign specialists.”Minister Herbert explained that about ninety percent of the medication prescribed for diabetes and hypertension are purchased through the OECS procurement pharmaceutical services. As a result shortages sometimes occur as supplier concentrate first on larger markets. Herbert said his ministry was planning to adopt a more integrated approach to health care, with a variety of services being offered under one roof; and he said government was also hoping to introduce a national health insurance scheme. “Such a scheme is long overdue but workers must be prepared to appreciate the value of such a system in an age where medical treatment abroad is so expensive and to make the necessary monetary contributions they”ll be asked to make in order to ensure the viability of such a system. We continue to work on that Minister of Health, Social and Community Development and Gender Affairs.”Minister Herbert and his Permanent Secretary Mr. Elvis Newtown explained that the national health insurance initiative was still in the research phase. Mr. Newtown said he did not expect any concrete decisions to be made for at least six months.
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