NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville announced that the ministry will embark on a new journey to improve manpower, infrastructural upgrades while focusing on reducing the level of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and the associated costs.
He was making his contribution to the debate on “The Way Forward” Budget for the fiscal year 2022/2023, in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, June 15, 2022.
Dr. Darville shared a number of initiatives to be undertaken by his ministry; but first addressed recent COVID-19 protocol updates.
Effective June 19, 2022 at 12:01 am, the Ministry of Health and Wellness will remove the testing requirements for all vaccinated travelers entering The Bahamas.
“This decision is based on science and recommendations from both local and regional epidemiologists. This is good news for our local economy,” he said.
Dr. Darville noted however, that in the midst of good news, his ministry is faced with many other challenges, and tough decisions that have to be made in the short term.
“Despite the naysayers, many countries believe The Bahamas has done well in handling the pandemic over the last 10 months, with the implementation of sound evidence-based policies and balanced COVID-19 protocols,” he said.
Dr. Darville, who recently attended the World Health Assembly and the Summit of the Americas, said he and his delegation learned that many of the lower and medium income countries are “relying heavily” on preventive medicine and national wellness programmes to fight against COVID-19 and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
He said that these countries have also reported that they are experiencing lower hospital admissions and reduced morbidity and mortality as a result of their policies. “In The Bahamas, we continue to battle with the increase in incidences of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease and chronic renal failure,” Dr. Darville said. “Despite our efforts, the incidence of these NCDs continues to escalate.” He added, “There is much to be done and I must say time is not on our side.”
In this vein, Dr. Darville announced that his ministry would embark on a new journey to improve manpower resources and infrastructural upgrades, while focusing on reducing the incidence of Non-Communicable Diseases (NDCs) and the cost burden associated with prevention and treatment.
“This would require bipartisan support and aggressive infrastructural upgrades to our hospitals and clinics. Building manpower resources both at the primary and tertiary level is critical to improving healthcare delivery systems across the country.
“It is also necessary for us to address many of the age-old Human Resources (HR) challenges that currently exist throughout my ministry,” he said.
Dr. Darville then shared that his ministry has been allocated $316,322,383 million in this year’s Budget. Of this sum, $232,455,854million allocated to the Public Hospital’s Authority, and $46.2 million to National Health Insurance.
The Department of Public Health, which manages the public clinics in New Providence and the Family Islands, has been allocated a sum of $52,935,740 million.
Dr. Darville said he was also proud to introduce two new line items in the budget – $10 million for Catastrophic Healthcare Services, and $2.5 million for Health and Wellness. “With these two new line items, we are finally putting our money where our mouth is. We believe these two line items will go a long way in addressing the country’s disease burden and will bring immediate relief to hundreds of poor Bahamians across our archipelago that have been waiting for years for catastrophic care interventions and programmes to improve health and wellness,” he said.