Bahamas News

BAHAMAS: Health Minister presents national health priorities to PAHO meeting

#Bahamas, May 02, 2018 – Nassau – Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Duane Sands said the National Budget allocated for health has experienced a linear increase over the past 10 years.

“In 2017-2018, direct MOH allocation accounts for 11.5 per cent of the National Budget”, Dr. Sands explained as he presented the National health priorities at the Pan American Health Organization’s Caribbean Country and Sub-Regional Managers’ Regional Meeting at Atlantis Resort, Tuesday, May 1, 2018.   “Government Health Expenditure accounts 14.1 per cent of the National Budget if the health insurance premium allocation for civil servants is included,” he said.

The Health Minister also explained that data reflects that at least 65 per cent of the Bahamian population access healthcare services through the public health network of hospitals and community clinics.   He detailed the Government’s priorities and burden of disease, explaining that the second leading cause of death among males is violence contrasting to 2009 when it was the sixth leading cause of death.

Dr. Sands said this is leading to losing citizens in what should be their most productive years and this potential life loss (PYLL) also has significant economic implications.  He said injury and violence (25.4 per cent) are contributing to a higher percentage of PYLL than non-communicable diseases and related risks (12 per cent) and all forms of cancers (11 per cent).   He said statistics reveal that the victims of violence are predominantly single, male, unemployed with criminal record.

The Health Minister said there are questions about whether there is a link between poverty, household size and violence.  Dr. Sands pointed out that The Bahamas’ poverty rate is at least eight percentage points lower than India and Turkey. Yet, its murder rate is almost six times higher per 100,000.

He said current interventions do not work and perhaps questions should be asked of what is known to be true; there should be a re-examination of the problem of public health methodology.  Dr. Sands said PAHO can help with preparing the studies to undertake this re-examination.

He said priority number two is con-communicable diseases.  “Over the past two decades, the Bahamian society has drifted more and more away from an agricultural one towards an industrialized, instant society.

“The drug of choice for many is sugar and this addiction starts early in life.”

The Health Minister presented detailed graphs with obesity rates and the non-communicable disease rates for The Bahamas, showing how they are higher than our neighbours’ in the region.

By: Llonella Gilbert (BIS)

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