C’bean health ministers address universal health coverage, climate change at WHO assembly

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…Guyana’s Minister of Public Health calls on WHO member states to be mindful of the effects of climate change

GENEVA, Switzerland (CMC) — Caribbean health ministers have welcomed the attention being given to health coverage at the World Health Organisaton (WHO) general assembly being held here.

In his address at the sitting on Wednesday, the Minister of Health from St Kitts Nevis, Eugene Hamilton said the federation needs to focus on preventative mechanisms including – a reduction in health care costs and achieving lower mortality and morbidity outcomes.

“To achieve these high ideals we have partnered with the University of the West Indies Health Economics Unit to design and implement a programme that is supported by our citizens and residents; one that is sustainable technically and financially.”

He added that the team is on the ground undertaking the task of engaging all stakeholders, towards recommending options to the Cabinet.

As it related to Universal Health Coverage he said it will entail the provision of a package of essential health services that are accessible to all citizens across the life course for communicable and non- communicable diseases.

“Universal Health Coverage necessitates an adequate health information system, and recruitment of appropriate human resources to deliver quality healthcare services,” the health minister said.
Steele also said that instituting Universal Health Coverage in St Kitts and Nevis requires the sustained provision of targeted technical and other assistance.

“And I encourage WHO through its partners PAHO and CARPHA, to walk this journey with us; help us build human and institutional capacity now, right now. Helps us walk the talk. Ultimately with your help, Universal Health Coverage will reduce the burden of preventable illness and death, and foster better health outcomes,” Hamilton said.

Meanwhile, Guyana’s Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence called on WHO member states to be mindful of the effects of climate change.

Lawrence made the call during a presentation at a side-meeting at the ongoing World Health Assembly here.

Detailing the facts related to this phenomenon that indicates a threat to countries worldwide is real the minister queried, “Why do we have to still ask ourselves whether climate change is real?”
She noted that the direct and indirect effects would significantly affect human development and well-being of all people negatively. “Is it that we are looking at each other to act when we should be acting?” Lawrence asked.

She reminded that health systems are tested in the event of a natural disaster hence the need to take heeds of the warnings.

The Health Minister also said that the Guyana Government is aware of the impact that climate change can have on its people and economy and as such the administration is collaborating with the United Nations to develop a Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) which will essentially result in improved human well-being, reduce environmental risk and promote social equity for all Guyanese.

She explained that Caribbean countries have been mandated to embrace climate change awareness, develop strategies and policies which will promote inclusive economic growth and improve multidimensional progress, noting, “This is likely to tackle vulnerability at the household and individual level.”

“I would like to support a renewed call for us to consolidate our strengths for a collective voyage towards a path of deeper and a closely-knit union, by lifting our eyes beyond the differences, complexities and impediments and project them towards a unified approach towards this pervasive threat.”

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