The Ministry of Health and Wellness has promised a full investigation into the case of 56-year-old Beverley-Ann Joseph, whose plight was highlighted in today’s Weekend Nation.
Ms. Joseph, who was born in St. Lucia but has been living in Barbados since age eight, said that over the last two years she had been required to pay thousands of dollars to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to treat her chronic diabetes because of her non-national status.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, in reacting to the front page story today, said that in July this year the Cabinet of Barbados approved a policy which allowed non-nationals living in Barbados to access a suite of healthcare services, including emergency and preventative care, at all public institutions.
In addition, the policy mandated that CARICOM nationals residing in Barbados should be given the same level of health care services afforded to Barbadians at no cost.
He said this policy has now been implemented, and so Ms. Joseph should be able to access all future care without costs.
The Health and Wellness Minister explained that even before the policy was implemented, there was a mechanism in place which allowed non-nationals residing here to reach out to the Ministry for relief, in regard to healthcare financing.
These cases, he said, were dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and Ms. Joseph’s situation would have been eligible for consideration within this mechanism.
He described the decision to allow CARICOM nationals living in Barbados to access free health care as “a progressive approach as we move towards our goal of universal health coverage”.
Lt. Colonel Bostic said the aim was to make sure that basic health services were within reach of all segments of society so that no one was marginalized.