TAP Medical Care Network not ‘subpar’ says Health Minister
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, June 30, 2022 – Jamell Robinson, TCI Health Minister is urging residents not to be deterred by their perception of the country to which they are sent for medical care through the Treatment Abroad Program (TAP). Robinson explained that the TAP works in a specific way, and the goal is to deliver medical services which improves lives.
A person must be referred for overseas care by a local doctor, private or public. Once they are referred to a facility overseas, a Joint Referral Committee comprising members of the TCI Hospital and the National Health Insurance Board reviews the referral. With the overseas trip confirmed, there is communication within the regional network of doctors and hospitals to see if the case can be accommodated. If it can’t be accommodated in the Caribbean that case then goes outside the region to Columbia, any failure there results in TCI employing the extended network which includes the United States.
“Generally speaking the NHIB provides great flexibility on the location within the primary network.” He said, “So if they select the Dominican Republic and would prefer to go to Jamaica, no big deal they’ll send you to Jamaica.”
Robinson explained that while the TAP was very flexible for contributors who wanted to go to a specific place, he reminded that the Ministry of Health and the National Health Insurance Board would not send patients to subpar institutions anywhere in the world.
“Remember we are not sending you to a country. We’re sending you to a specific facility. Unfortunately, when we get into the ‘choice thing’ that we do accommodate, most times, it isn’t because of the healthcare that is provided at the specific facility. It’s usually because of the view of a person has of that country. If [the hospital] is in the Amazon Rainforest and it has the healthcare you need, if it was a part of the network that’s just the best location.”
Robinson said people in the TCI usually want to use the advanced network especially in the United States but he explained that the process to choose all the hospitals was extremely thorough and NHIP contributors would always get the best care despite the cost.
“With the way facilities are reviewed and graded so to speak within the network you have at least three options for pretty much every particular procedure that can be done within the network. So if it’s heart surgery then a particular institution would be the number one choice. That doesn’t mean other institutions can’t do that same procedure.”
Currently the NHIB covers all costs for international procedures including airfare for the patient; sometimes there is financial support to an accompanying loved one with the patient and funds are made available to cover partial costs of accommodations.
“At no point will anyone not have access to the healthcare that they need and that’s a very important thing to know,” Minister Robinson maintained.
Women’s Health Connectivity and health a study for TCI’S benefit
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – As the country moves toward new fiber optic connectivity, bridging the digital divide could be a game changer for healthcare and other family-friendly services in the TCI.
The power of universal digital connectivity across countries was one of the recurring themes when the United Nations in partnership with the Network of Afro Caribbean Women and the Diaspora recently explored how technology, innovation and education are being used to address women’s health issues.
The session aimed to highlight success stories and explore how those processes can be replicated to help women and girls globally including in The Turks and Caicos.
The UN explained that despite holding a 70 percent majority in healthcare jobs, women are poorly represented in leadership roles and subject to systemic gender inequalities that can make receiving healthcare challenging.
As delegates from Chile and Rwanda, who were also partners in the session, shared the upgrades to their countries’ systems that had significantly improved the level of care available to their women, digital connectivity was a deciding factor.
In Rwanda the health ministries have begun to use drones to deliver medicine, SMS messages to alert about health threats and a completely digitized health care that eliminates paper documents for pregnant women and makes records accessible to any doctor, immediately.
Rwandan delegate, Rose Rwabuhihi shared tips that countries should keep in mind when trying to implement new processes to benefit women and the wider community.
- Partnership and sustainability are key factors to successful programs. She urged governments not to give up on projects or allow their partners to give up on them halfway.
- Education campaigns to introduce residents to the technology: “We need to build skills and deepen the knowledge so they can use the innovations that have been put in place especially in rural areas.
Poor connectivity and technological issues have plagued the TCI for years especially in the islands outside of Providenciales. Government has substantially acknowledged this disparity in communications services and is investing in a new undersea cable to augment services in the Turks and Caicos.
The UNs perspectives can now ignite a fire for even more family friendly, digital services.
In fact,Senator Yasna Provoste Campillay, the Chilean Delegate explained how connectivity and videoconferencing had been used to reach the county’s women in the most rural of areas. Chile is a long country, its landmass spread lengthwise creating unique communication challenges. While healthcare in Chile is separated by length the Turks and Caicos islands are disconnected by the ocean and solutions that prove useful for the South American country could well be worth implementing locally.
A short look at Celery
March 17, 2023 – Celery is a great food for people trying to lose weight or just put healthy meals on the table. It’s mostly made up of water and with only ten calories per stalk, you can add it into juices, salads, stir frys and more, without worrying about large amounts of sugar.
There are other health benefits as well. Healthline says it is rich in antioxidants, reduces inflammation, supports digestion and it can help with heartburn from spicy foods!
TCI farmers have hopped onto the celery train and the nutritious vegetable will be available to purchase, in a debut for celery, at the Farmers Market this Saturday March 18th from 8:30 am to 1pm.
WHO Ranks Air Quality, Grenada ranks high others not measured
By Dana Malcolm
March 17, 2023 – A new air quality report from IQAir claims only six countries met the World Health Organization’s Guidelines on Air quality in 2022, Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland and New Zealand but the Northern Caribbean was almost totally excluded from the list.
There were no results for The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica, Haiti or Cayman. The blame for that though may lie with the countries themselves. IQAir said there were major gaps in government-operated regulatory instrumentation in many parts of the world. The organization revealed that it was citizens who were picking up the slack.
“Low-cost air quality monitors sponsored and hosted by citizen scientists, researchers, community advocates, and local organizations, have proven to be a valuable tool to reduce the massive inequalities in air monitoring networks across the world, until sustainable regulatory air quality monitoring networks can be established,” it said.
It may be time for more Northern Caribbean Governments to look into outfitting their countries with air monitoring devices for the health of their residents.
The Caribbean countries including Trinidad, Barbados, the US Virgin Islands etc, that did make the list, ranked very low in the pollution index with air quality just outside the WHO standards and much better than most major cities, except Grenada, which ranked in the bottom six which for this list means best in class.
The WHO measures air quality based on how much fine particulate matter and other basic pollutants are in the air.
Aidan Farrow, Air Quality Scientist at Greenpeace International said, “Too many people around the world don’t know that they are breathing polluted air. Air pollution monitors provide hard data that can inspire communities to demand change and hold polluters to account, but when monitoring is patchy or unequal, vulnerable communities can be left with no data to act on.”
The report is now encouraging citizens to take air pollution into their own hands and not wait for their Governments to attack the issue.
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