Minister of Health, Donville Inniss
Government is moving forward with the establishment of an NGO-Health Desk; a concept that has been the subject of much discussion for more than a decade.
At a consultation held today at the headquarters of the Pan American Health Organisation in Dayrells Road, Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, assured representatives of the non-governmental organisations, (NGOs) that his Ministry was “fully committed to the involvement of NGOs in the health sector”.
He said that during this current financial year, approximately $4.4 million was budgeted to support the delivery of health care services through partnership agreements with NGOs.
The Minister disclosed that these arrangements included the granting of subventions to 11 non-governmental organisations and contracts for services arrangements with four others.
He added: “In this vein, the Ministry of Health will also consider the development of meaningful dialogue with trade unions and with faith-based organisations in a bid to expand strategies towards primary prevention.”
It is anticipated that the NGO Desk would be established as a unit within the Ministry by the first half of the new financial year, and would serve as “a repository for the sharing of reports and, of best practices, so that critical capacities can be built within our organizations”.
It was also noted that the Ministry’s principal interest lay in building a strategic partnership with NGOs that would lead to “a more cost-effective delivery of world-class health care services to all Barbadians.”
Minister Inniss remarked that over the years, many non-governmental organisations had evolved in the society and several of these had made direct and indirect contributions to the health and social landscape of this country.
“The more tangible offerings of the NGO sector have included gifts of time, money, equipment, and technical expertise, with the overall goal of improving the health status of Barbadians,” he opined.
Mr. Inniss observed that some NGOs had undertaken the direct provision of services to consumers, such as screening, education and counselling. He added that they were free of cost at the point of delivery, or offered highly subsidised pricing, that was designed to achieve minimal cost recovery and to ensure wide access of these services by members of the general public.
In March 2008, Cabinet agreed in principle to the establishment of an NGO-Health Desk. The one-day consultation saw a number of health NGOs outlining a framework which will administer the relationship between health NGOs and the Ministry of Health. It also presented an opportunity for both sides to clarify their expectations and identify the resources necessary to move them to the action stage.