TCI News

PDM Administration announces budget increase for primary health care, goal to reduce overseas medical bills

Photo by Magnetic Media

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Thursday April 26, 2018 – The National Health Insurance Plan needs a phenomenal solution to heal its multi-million dollar shortages, and the PDM Administration says it intends to finance the plan it believes will deliver the health care system from its $4 million annual shortfall.

The plan, according to Government will be multi-pronged but will chiefly focus on reducing the expenditure of TAP or Treatment Abroad Program and secondary care at the TCI Hopsitals – combined the two categories account for 86 per cent of monies spent on health care.

Health Minister, Edwin Astwood said more money is coming, and its direction is shifting.

“My Government is prioritising the strengthening of primary health care through a number of initiatives, including an increase in budgetary provisions being made to recruit additional staff in this new financial year, which includes two additional medical officers, registered nurses and physiotherapists.” 

Already, explained the Minister on Monday, there are a greater number of services being offered at the InterHealth Canada managed, TCI Hospitals.  Still, government is aiming to make a significant dent in the 51% of revenue which is spent at the hospitals.

“A strong primary health care system is an essential component to any health care system and investment in this area has been lacking in the past.  However, my Government has seen it fit to prioritise primary health care once again in order to improve universal access to quality health care for all residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands,” said Hon. Astwood at the press conference held at the Office of the Premier in Provo.

Government talked about partnerships with healthy lifestyle centers in the country and announced a breakthrough for public health.

“…the operation of a mobile clinic, which will be the first time ever in the Turks and Caicos islands…” the Minister of Health, Human Services, Sports and Agriculture added, “…we are partnering with local, non-governmental organizations in order to educate the general public about healthy lifestyle practices, including the implementation of well balanced diets and regular exercise.” 

The initiatives are aimed at prevention and ensuring earlier detection of the lifestyle diseases which are not only claiming lives, but diminishing national productivity.

“It is hoped that with an emphasis on healthy lifestyles and prevention and control of non communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, we would realize a reduction in premature deaths and disabilities which may result from these conditions.”

The announcement of this more assertive action to shift the mindset of people to want to be healthier, subsequently making the nation, wealthier due to a reduction in medical costs, was delivered by Minister Edwin Astwood, who also explained another shift; where sports was added to his health portfolio.

“We look forward to a greater synergy in promoting physical activities at schools and throughout the country.  The school nutrition program has been approved in principle, by Cabinet, and is focused on health, nutrition and well being for our children.  In addition, the Department of Agriculture has been promoting its ‘Eat what you Grow and Grow what you Eat’ initiatives in our schools and communities…”

There is a review of the TAP, which absorbs 35% of medical costs paid by the National Health Insurance Plan and Government.  Minister Astwood said a submission is due for presentation at Cabinet in June 2018.  

“This will ensure that the provision for treatment that will fall outside the scope of the current National Health Insurance ordinance is reviewed as well as reviewing the mechanisms and procedures for clients requiring rehabilitation not available locally.”

The review will also consider higher cost clinical cases, the offer in the benefits package of the NHIP , the sustainability of the Treatment Abroad Program (TAP) and specialty treatment, especially for those struggling to lose weight.

Minister Edwin Astwood, who was joined by the Permanent Secretary for the ministry, Desiree Lewis said the results of the NHIP Actuarial Report, due to be completed in May will under gird the findings in the TAP Review.

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