(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – Health Officials and other Senior Public Officers participated in a two day training workshop on Health Financing Mechanisms.
The training focused on three main issues that of defining the essential benefits package, the providers of the benefits package and how these providers will be financed.
The government of St. Lucia is exploring options for the introduction of a National Health Insurance for St. Lucia. A two day workshop comprising technical officers from various departments within the public service was conducted by consultants from the EU Socieux + Programme. The programme is a technical assistance facility set-up and co-funded by the EU, France, Spain and Belgium.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Felix St. Hill, said consultations will be held with all trade union and staff associations representing workers within the health sector as well as a broad spectrum of other stakeholders within the national economy.
“What we’re doing here is developing the roadmap. The roadmap that would lead to implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme and we’re looking at establishing a National Health Regulatory Authority that would be responsible for monitoring not only the implementation but the operation of the National Health Insurance Scheme because of the possibility of abuse not only by the users but also by the providers. So we have to ensure that legislation and every other aspect of policy regarding health insurance is put in place.”
St. Hill added that the roadmap is expected to be completed within this financial year and will provide clarity as to the direction government should pursue. Markus Bazan is a Technical Consultant Expert with Socieux +. He is a health economist with over 30 years of experience on a national and international level. He stressed that consultations with as many stakeholders as possible is imperative in the formulation of a National Health Insurance Scheme.
“There are two basic rules for a good healthcare reform. It has to be very well designed and very well funded. If one of those things is missing you might have a good system but badly funded it wouldn’t get you forward. You might have a well funded system but badly designed this wouldn’t help you either. So this is the best advise we can give that both of these strings have to be complementary and well harmonized. This is the reason why we like to bring together all people relevant in this process in order to have a common aim, a common target for the good of the people of St. Lucia.”
The training workshop will focus on four main areas namely the processes needed in order to implement a National Health Insurance Scheme, the various components of such as scheme, various issues to be analyzed and decisions taken as well as the vital stakeholders who should be involved in the process.
The Technical Consultant acknowledged that National Health Insurance Schemes have been difficult to implement around the world citing examples such as the United States and the United Kingdom but said however there are successful programme which can also be cited as examples.
“On the other hand you have very small countries like Denmark or Switzerland or the Netherlands where you have a common sense and common target and thus you don’t have such resistance within the population and the stakeholders because everybody gives in a wee bit and everybody gets out something from it and this has to be the process and this is tough work to persuade the other side.”
Due to the importance of healthcare, the government of St. Lucia has stated its desire to implement in the soonest possible time a National Health Insurance to cover all St. Lucia particularly the most vulnerable.