Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
March 26, 2008 (SKNIS)
The new National Strategic Health Plan for the period 2008 to 2012 is owned by the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.
This is according to Health Planner in the Ministry of Health Mr. Andrew Skerritt who enthused that the Ministry of Health is excited about the plan because in the deliberation phase there were widespread grass roots discussions that fed into national consultations. As such, the National Strategic Health Plan belongs to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis who determined its composition.
Mr. Skerritt who discussed the plan with the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service said that it would soon be ready for public dissemination. He said that Cabinet approved the strategic health plan on February 25 and it is now going through its final scripting and editing. Presentation to the public should take place shortly. He stated that while the plan is already public information, it is not presentation ready.
The Health Planner further noted that while the Ministry of Health has always been driven by strong policy, this is the first National Strategic Health Plan and it has identified seven priority health areas derived from a situation analysis done in conjunction with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
These are: Health Systems Development; Family Health; Mental Health and Substance Abuse; Chronic Non-Communicable Disease Management, Nutrition and Physical Activity; Environmental Health; HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections; as well as Human Resource Development. Mr. Skerritt said that incidentally, the identified areas mirrored those of the Caribbean Cooperation in Health Initiative, Phase II (CCHII), the document which guides the health ministries in the CARICOM-member countries.
The Health Planner revealed that a central committee identified some terms of reference and put several working groups together in order to drive the process. He said that throughout the plan, each priority area has headings including: priority issues, things that are not going well, what can be done to improve these, objectives, measurable indicators and expected results over the mentioned five year period. Mr. Skerritt noted that the plan is flexible in design and within the next two years there will be a review to find out if expectations of the plan are being met and determine if adjustments are necessary and if other initiatives need to be implemented.
Of all the priority areas, Mr. Skerritt identified that the Human Resource Development Section is key as it provides for a Human Resource Development System in the Ministry of Health which will ensure that all areas of the strategic plan are implemented. It includes recruitment, retention, training, succession planning and also has a system of recognition and reward for employees.
Health Planner Skerritt stressed that nationals have become more educated, and exposed to technology and are demanding more of the health system. He said it was up to the Ministry to meet those demands and the National Strategic Health Plan would help to prioritize and set a timeline to these issues. He said the Ministry of Health could not stand alone and so it continues to establish relationships with regional governments, companies and industries and as a result continuous improvement has been obvious. He said the plan sells the notion that health, is not just a health issue, but involves everyone and everything. The Health Planner said that the Ministry was very proud of its partners and contacts that it has made, all in the effort to improve health in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.