Sub regional leaders to examine national health insurance scheme

Governments of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) are to collaborate on a study to investigate the viability of a national health insurance scheme for the sub-region.

A communique issued Monday following the meeting of the leaders of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands last week, noted that the summit had discussed the establishment of a health unit .

The communique stated that the leaders had noted the opportunity for sharing best practice in health delivery and considered “the advances made by St. Kitts and Nevis in collaborating with the World Paediatric Project to deliver free paediatric health care to its nationals as well at citizens of the OECS. “Heads agreed that all Member States would collaborate on a study to investigate the viability of a National Health Insurance Scheme and take account of the lifesaving surgical services being provided by Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to OECS citizens,” the communique added.

It said that the leaders had also reaffirmed their treaty commitment to more closely coordinate positions in foreign policy and further agreed to rationalize foreign and diplomatic missions as a matter of urgency in an on-going effort to further reduce the fiscal burden on member states.

“Heads agreed for the need to investigate cost saving measures including collaborating on the use of shared space and resources and joint foreign representation where practically possible.”

The communique stated that on the issue of climate change, the sub-regional leaders noted the effect of climate change on the region which has occasioned serious damage and destruction to property and infrastructure and the loss of life.

They acknowledged the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change identifying the Caribbean as one of the most vulnerable regions to be threatened by climate change over the next 30 to 50 years.

The communique said that the leaders, who met for the first time by video conferencing “cited the St. George’s Declaration 2006, “which provides inter alia for the development of strategies and policies to address the effects of climate change on water resources management, land management and marine and resource management”.

The leaders also discussed the budget for the St. Lucia-based OECS Commission while taking note “of the extensive work of the Commission in implementing long term strategies to reduce the fiscal burden on Member States through an organizational re-structure and observed in a climate of escalating costs.

“The almost cost neutral budget which was presented and subsequently adopted.”

Antigua Observer