The Ministry of Health today launched a National Health Accounts initiative which will allow it to track the flow of funds in the healthcare system.

Speaking at a workshop to launch the exercise at Savannah Hotel, Health Minister John Boyce said that the new system will provide information to assist policymakers to make informed decisions on the way forward.

He noted: ???As we move to improve the efficiency of programmes and spending of health care funds we must be aware of how much is actually spent on public health care goods and services in Barbados. Furthermore, a detailed analysis on who provides these goods and services, and what health care goods and services are consumed are the methodological steps necessary to inform the development of major health financing reform.???

Mr. Boyce said the new system was being implemented at a time when Barbados was facing severe economic challenges. ???We as a nation must make tough decisions about how health services will be financed and delivered???.The reality is that in spite of the downturn in the economy, health care costs in Barbados, as well as in industrialised and developing countries, have continued to rise.???

He said that currently, a large percentage of the Barbadian population was seeking access to preventative, curative and rehabilitative care services at polyclinics Additionally, the demands for access to secondary care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital continues to rise as more people experience complications due to non-communicable diseases.

The Health Minister stated: ???In the case of Barbados, whose health financing system is based on the pooling of tax revenues to pay for the delivery of services to the population, we must ensure that all funds allocated to the public health care system are used efficiently and invested in the best ways to improve the population???s health.???

The new system of health accounts, he said, will not only measure health spending in the public health sector but will also seek to analyse the flow of financial resources in the private sector.

According to the Minister, by the end of the exercise in December this year, the Ministry will have sound evidence to inform resource allocation decisions. This, he added, will increase transparency and accountability at the policy level in the public health sector.

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