(TC WEEKLY NEWS) – RESIDENTS in the Turks and Caicos Islands will soon have access to a variety of primary healthcare services within their own communities.
The Ministry of Health launched the TCI’s first ever mobile health clinic at the Town Centre Mall, Downtown, Providenciales, on Monday (September 10).
The clinic is designed to reach children, adults and seniors in remote places with no prior access to healthcare.
Staff will provide physical exams as well as blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose level screenings.
Other services include immunisations and flu shots, prescriptions to treat high blood pressure, non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol and nutritional counselling and health education.
Speaking at a brief ribbon cutting ceremony, Minister of Health, Agriculture and Human Services, Hon. Edwin Astwood, who commissioned mobile clinic, said it will be instrumental in increasing access to primary healthcare services.
Astwood said the Government has a responsibility to ensure residents have access to sustainable, comprehensive and high quality healthcare services.
“The world at one time was looking to go to centralisation of healthcare and I think the Turks and Caicos Islands also got caught up in that notion that we need to centralise healthcare, but eventually the world figured out that centralisation isn’t working so there was some move back to decentralise healthcare.
“And now today in the Turks and Caicos I am happy to say that we are leading in that decentralisation and this mobile clinic…is that step in the right direction.”
Astwood said the initiative is in keeping with the Government’s effort to prioritise primary healthcare in a bid to reduce the financial burden on the treatment abroad programme.
The skyrocketing cost of the programme and the prevalence of non-communicable diseases has compelled the Government to gear its energy towards improving facilities and promoting healthy lifestyle practices.
“Our Government is committed to primary healthcare and disease prevention and that is something that we continue to speak about – getting people to adopt healthy lifestyles, that is one of our main goals, preventing people from becoming sick.”
He emphasised the dire need for the populace to adopt healthy lifestyle practices as fundamental to the overall approach to health and wellness across the territory.
“We want our population to be healthy and one of the ways is early detection and again we have a history, not just in the Turks and Caicos Islands but in the Caribbean, persons do not like to go to the clinic, persons do not like to go to the hospitals.
“We find a reason not to go and seek healthcare and I’m not excusing myself, I’m one of them who do not like to go to hospitals and clinics.
“I think that I’m super healthy, but I know that is the wrong approach.”
Astwood pointed out that taking these services directly to their community will ensure people get the help and information they need at a place that is more convenient for them.
“This is very important…we need to get our population healthy. There are too many of us dying from lifestyle disorders, diseases and conditions that could’ve been prevented if detected earlier.
“This mobile clinic will assist in that, this clinic will bring healthcare to where the people are, where the elderly are.
“We have a portion of the population that really cannot access healthcare when they need it and so we are taking healthcare to the people.”
Director of Health Services Dr Nadia Astwood agreed that the promotion of healthy lifestyles and early detection of diseases remains a priority for the ministry.
“There is an identified need and commitment to strengthen primary healthcare in order to deliver integrated, comprehensive patient centred services in communities.
“Our aim is to improve access to primary healthcare in communities through the provision of services to promote health in an equitable manner in order for persons to live healthy and more productive lives.”
Several Cabinet ministers and Premier Sharlene Cartwright Robinson also attended the launch.