HEALTH and Wellness Minister Michael Darville.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
HEALTH Minister Dr Michael Darville said the government is working to recruit public health specialists and allied health professionals to pave the way for telemedicine platforms and the digitisation of medical records.
During remarks at the 75th opening session of the World Health Assembly yesterday, the minister said the devastating Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic brought The Bahamas’ challenges in healthcare to a head in the most dramatic way.
He said: “The Bahamas is a small archipelagic nation made up of 700 islands and is fully committed to peace. While our geography has afforded us hundreds of miles of some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, it has presented us with challenges to replicate the delivery of health care services to each of the 34 most populated islands.
“The recent shocks of the devastating effects of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID- 19 pandemic has brought these challenges to a head in the most dramatic way. The destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian to health care facilities in two of our major islands robbed us of the ability to respond adequately to the health crisis that followed. On the heels of our response to Hurricane Dorian we were hit with the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for us to mount a multi-island response in managing the virus was severely impacted.
“I am happy to say that today we are gradually rebuilding better and while we continue to work on improvements in health care delivery, we are ever mindful that the devastating effects of future hurricanes could easily wipe out the progress made.
“But in the midst of these intense challenges, my country remains committed to the WHA global agenda to promote economic recovery and to revitalise health care delivery systems through universal health care.”
He said access to proper financial and manpower resources, appropriate medicines and diagnostics are essential in the prevention of both communicable and non-communicable diseases by way of national health insurance and food security.
“Our government is working to recruit public health specialists and allied health professionals that will pave the way for telemedicine platforms and the digitisation of medical records.
“If we are to alleviate the burden caused by COVID-19 and incidences of non- communicable diseases, we must close the gaps by the introduction of adequately funded wellness programmes.
“We support the WHA global focus on vaccinating 70 percent of the world’s population against COVID-19 by the end of 2022. The Bahamas is diligently striving to achieve this goal and currently provide free vaccines throughout the country and with the integration of the electronic immunisation registry, expanded programmes are going well despite the logistical challenges.”
And as The Bahamas prepares for the swiftly approaching Hurricane season, he said a climate resilient health plan remains a key priority.
However, like other small island developing states, he said, the country must fight to overcome the negative impacts of global climate change by reducing carbon footprints.