Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has described the issue of financing health care in Barbados as one which requires serious national deliberation, and has promised a White Paper on the matter.

Speaking at the official opening ceremony of the David Thompson Health and Social Services Complex at Glebe Land, St. John, last Friday, Mr. Stuart revealed that consultations with major stakeholders to discuss possible health care financing models had already begun.

Last October 9, the Ministry of Health sought and obtained input from key stakeholders, including the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners, the Barbados Association of Retired Persons, the Economics and Medical Faculties of the University of the West Indies, the Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and the National Insurance Scheme.

Prime Minister Stuart said this was done, firstly, with the acknowledgement that any system or model being considered must have the direct input of all stakeholders and secondly, on the basis that the system must be sustainable.

He added: ???These discussions have provided a wealth of information, on which a framework for public consultation will continue, and which will provide the basis for a White Paper on health care reform.???

Mr. Stuart disclosed that Government taxation was the primary source of funding for health care services, with private health insurance and out-of-pocket payments by households contributing to a lesser degree.

During the 2012 ??? 2013 financial year, he said, the country???s total health expenditure, both public and private, was more than BBD $738 million, 55 per cent of which originated from funds voted by Parliament and allocated to the Ministry of Health. Health expenditure, he added, represented 11.1 per cent of the total Government budget.

The Prime Minister stressed the negative impact of the increasing incidence of chronic disease in Barbados.?????We need to all pause, and take time to reflect on the incidence of NCDs in Barbados, and to do what we can do to reduce their impact on our people at the individual level, the family level and the community level, as well as on our institutions.

???The twin dividend will be the improvement of our health, and the lessening of the NCD health-related costs in our national expenditure. As Prime Minister, I cannot afford to tire in seeking to bring this truth home to our people. It is too important to our nation???s well-being,??? he stated.

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