Health Minister, John Boyce. (FP)

With most countries in the region tightening their financial "belts", health officials have been urged to identify a package of "regional public health goods" that the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) can offer to governments at costs lower than if they had to provide the services individually.

This challenge was thrown out to those attending the 21st Annual Chief Medical Officers’ Meeting at the Hilton Barbados yesterday, by Minister of Health, John Boyce. It was held under theme: Improving Quality for Sustainable Health Outcomes.

In his feature address, Mr. Boyce told the CMOs from around the region that he had high expectations for the two-day meeting and its outcomes. He pointed out that the establishment of CARPHA had ushered in a new era in the region with CARICOM Member States assuming full responsibility for CARPHA’s viability.

"… We are operating in an environment of tightened finances and thus, the need for innovation is upon us. I am calling upon you, therefore, to identify a package of regional public health goods…An example that comes to mind is the development of epidemiological studies that would be appropriately conducted on behalf of Member States here in Barbados.

The Ministry of Health has had a mutually beneficial relationship with the Chronic Disease Research Centre of the University of the West Indies which hosts the Barbados National Registry on its behalf," the Health Minister stated.

He said the region had seen significant achievements in its response to the non-communicable diseases epidemic.

Mr. Boyce explained that the Nassau Declaration (2001) placed health at the centre of development with its imperative that "the health of the region is the wealth of the region".

"…However, much work needs to be done. I am calling on you, therefore, to identify some innovative ways for us to address the threat of the non-communicable diseases in light of the targets set out in the global monitoring framework.

"These need to be considered within the context of national budgets, prices, tax measures and other policy and regulatory approaches. In addition, consideration can be given to greater involvement of other public sector entities, the private sector and non-governmental organisations," Mr. Boyce emphasised, adding that many of the determinants of health were beyond the control of the health sector alone.


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