ROBERTS CONTINUES TO HAMMER AWAY AT HEALTHCARE
Written by Kennedy Roberts on April 7, 2018
The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated April 7th as World Health Day; and every year, the world community comes together behind a theme that is relevant at that time in our history. In 2018 the WHO has selected as the theme, “Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere”. This should be the focus of attention as the world celebrates the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the WHO. The websites www.who.int and www.paho.org are great sources of information which provide guidance on what countries should do to advance the cause of UHC.
During the recent election campaign in Grenada, health care came to the forefront as an issue that affects us all and a sector which needs urgent attention. It is expected that the new government will stick to their commitment and work in the best interest of Grenadians, showing tangible improvements in our health care system. UHC is being advocated as the way forward.
So what really is UHC, and what can we do as a nation to achieve it? The WHO definition for UHC is “ensuring that all people have access to needed promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that people do not suffer financial hardship when paying for these services.” This must be the goal that we work towards so that Grenadians can access health care services while focusing on prevention.
Each country is unique and to improve the health system we must have a good understanding of the problems that affect the country. Grenada must therefore develop solutions that are relevant for this country and its citizens. While the WHO will provide general direction on the implementation of UHC, a genuine consultation process is essential for successful implementation. This current period is timely and appropriate for us to reflect on the Grenada health care system and come up with strategies to move closer towards implementing UHC.
The current efforts being undertaken relating to National Health Insurance; Primary Health Care; e-Management Information System; hospital management; environmental health reform; school health program; worker’s health, among others, must be addressed within a systems-thinking framework. This means that we must take a comprehensive multi-sectoral view of the health system to ensure that we will improve the quality of health services delivered to the population – and, by extension, guarantee an improvement in the quality of life and productivity of Grenadians.
The national dialogue must include the private sector, non-governmental organizations and other relevant stakeholders relating to health. This must include the academic institutions like St. George’s University, the University of the West Indies, TAMCC and other institutions with whom they have linkages. The entire country must be engaged to come up with recommendations to address the health situation.
Health workers have a critical role to play in achieving UHC and must be consulted to fully understand the problems of the health sector and to recommend appropriate solutions. Civil society must also continue to advocate for the most vulnerable among us and speak up against any injustices. The media also has a key responsibility to inform & educate the population, as well as keeping the authorities accountable for the promises to improve the health system.
Now that the election is over, the realities of our health situation must be addressed and the government should make its position clear relating to the implementation of UHC. The WHO has highlighted UHC and the important role it plays in the implementation of the sustainable development goals. Grenada should be discussing this to show what actions they are taking towards implementation.
The time is now for serious dialogue among all stakeholders to co-create a Grenadian solution to solve the problems of the Grenada health care system. We must ensure that all Grenadians have access to all health services available in the country. This access must be equitable and based on need, rather than the ability to pay at the point of service. No person should be denied available care because they are poor. Government must ensure that sufficient resources are raised & pooled to strategically purchase the necessary services & materials to provide quality health care to Grenadians. This is what Universal Health Coverage is all about.
Happy World Health Day 2018. Let Grenadians have UHC for everyone, everywhere.