The Minister of Health Sir Molwyn Joseph has called for a focus on primary health care to achieve universal health coverage. The Minister was speaking at the formal opening of the 14th Caribbean Conference on National Health Financing Initiative currently underway in Antigua and Barbuda.
Sir Molwyn intimated that health promotion and health education are critical components to assure healthy lifestyles and reduce non-communicable diseases.
He further noted that this health education should begin at the primary school level and should form a part of its curriculum.
He added it is necessary for primary school students to be educated on the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle, inclusive of healthy eating, and adequate rest so that they can make informed, healthy choices at a young age.
These early childhood practices will reduce incidences of childhood obesity and promote optimal health in adulthood. This would ultimately help to reduce healthcare costs.
The Minister noted further that with an adequate and functioning primary health care system, people can receive quality and comprehensive care. This he says will reduce the pressures at the secondary and tertiary healthcare levels.
Also speaking at the conference opening was the Chairperson of the Medical Benefits Board, Senator Osbert Frederick. Senator Frederick noted that the country’s strategic plan for health is to promote and provide high-quality health services that are accessible and affordable by the citizens and residents of Antigua and Barbuda.
The plan, he says will have to be supported by effective policy formulation, health regulations and strategic partnership.
The goal of the national strategic plan for health the Senator adds is to empower individuals and families to manage their health, strengthen health systems and community support mechanisms and also to extend strategic partnerships.
Day one of the conference focused on confronting COVID-19 and policy challenges in the Universal Coverage Agenda, Managing COVID-19 within the Context of Universal Health Coverage and Managing COVID-19: Coping strategies by Health Financing Agencies.
Day two will include a focus on experiences from mature health financing agencies, Universal Health care – management challenges of health financing sustainability.