Charlestown, Nevis (July 16, 2007)
Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration the Hon Hensley Daniel hailed Nevis’ health policy which is directed at prevention while he delivered an address at the opening ceremony of the Inaugural Eastern Caribbean Conference on Health, hosted by the NIA in collaboration with other stakeholders in health on Monday July 16, 2007, under the theme “Cooperating to build Healthier Communities”.
The Health Minister said the Administration had focussed on public education and community outreach programmes, which would help the society to make health a priority and make careful dieting and exercise part of its daily routine.
Mr. Daniel welcomed the week long conference which, he said, came at a time of great challenge and opportunity.
“The great challenge relates to the relatively high incidence of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension then there is obesity and HIV/AIDS, low levels of health insurance, natural disasters and rising health care costs occasioned by antisocial behaviour such as drug abuse and violence.“The opportunities lie in increased collaboration and improvement in the delivery of health services,” he said and added that the presence of the NIA, Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the University of the West Indies, the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute and Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) and Jackson Memorial University formed the basis for increased collaboration.
The Health Minister disclosed that Nevis provided primary care to its population of 11,500 and the Administration saw the conference as one which provided opportunities that would develop mechanisms and partnerships for the provision of secondary and tertiary care.
Mr Daniel noted that the Administration had recognised that poor health among the population would retard economic and social development and it was necessary for a healthy society to drive economic development.
He referred to a number of initiatives which the Administration had embarked on to ensure disease prevention and the improvement in the delivery of care; environmental work programme at the village and community level to maintain a clean and healthy environment; a community outreach programme which would raise awareness and help the community make healthy choices; a health insurance plan to provide increased coverage and increase resources in health care and a review of the current process for health care providers in an effort to widen the scope of incentives offered to attract more persons to health care.
According to Mr. Daniel, the recruitment, training and continuing education of the medical professionals presented a major challenge to the maintenance of acceptable levels of health care and the conference, he believed, could help the Administration chart a new course, where human resource development was concerned.
Meantime, Premier of Nevis the Hon Joseph Parry welcomed the delegates to Nevis and described the conference as a demonstration of what Nevis’ outstanding scholars could produce. He urged younger Nevisians to mirror and even to surpass the scholastic achievements of their older fellowmen, some of who lived in other parts of the world.
He further referred to the Health Conference as a great idea and effort and expressed the hope that it would serve as a catalyst to make the necessary changes that would impact Nevis in the years to come.
Other remarks came from Dr, Denzil Douglas Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Carissa Etienne MD, Assistant Director of the Pan American Organisation, Conference Chairman Mr. Odell Bussue and Conference Co-chairman Dr. Lincoln Sargeant DM, PhD.