THE Ministry of Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations has engaged the services of two consultants, an actuarial scientist and a health policy consultant, from the European Union Project to research options for the future financing of the health care system in Saint Lucia.
Xyster Edmund, Chief Health Planner in the Ministry of Health said that a health financing initiative has always been part of the Ministry’s strategic plan.
“What we refer to as Universal Health Coverage really means the manner and extent to which the Government of St. Lucia will protect health risks for its population,” she said. “It is an integrated approach.”
There are about seven components to the establishment of Universal Health Care: governance, the provision of services, financing, quality management, monitoring and evaluation, health information systems, and infrastructure.
Edmund said the Ministry of Health has already defined the process, the package of services in draft form, and the cost.
Actuarial scientist John Armstrong has worked with other Caribbean countries in the analysis of healthcare systems. His work entails identifying the capacity of the economy to finance Universal Health Care and determining the best strategies that can be employed.
“The key aspect is obviously the demographic profile of the country: the size of the country, the make up in terms of age, the male to female split, where people live, and the socio-economic wealth of the country,” Armstrong said. “The second will be the expectations of the population in terms of health care, the package of benefits which will be provided, and the cost of that package.”
Upon completion of the consultancy, Armstrong said a number of policy options will be presented for consideration to the Ministry of Health. Along with the actuarial analysis, policy direction and appropriate legislation will be provided by the health policy consultant.
In formulating the strategic plan for the health sector, meetings were held in communities island wide.
“The government has listened to the voice of the people and the Universal Health Coverage initiate really represents our response to what the people of St. Lucia said they needed,” Edmund explained. “They wanted to know what they are paying for, that the quality of health care was improved and that it would be available to them when they needed it.”
Project funding was made available by the European Development Fund (EDF) under the 10th EDF programme. The funds were made available for strengthening a wide range of activities in the ministry, including Universal Health Care activities.