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Saint Lucians Urged To Pay Up For Health Care Services

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Contact: Rose Marie Harris

Friday, May 09, 2003 - The issue of Health Care Financing is to be given serious consideration by the government of Saint Lucia this financial year. Speaking during the inauguration of the St. Jude Hospital Management Board, Thursday May 07, 2003, Prime Minister Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony lamented that while the island’s health institutions are under pressure to provide the best possible health care services, the vast majority of Saint Lucians do not honour their medical bills. This Dr. Anthony said is hindering the progress of government in enhancing the health sector.

“It is quite clear too that our people need to understand that unless we can cement health care services then they are not going to get the quality of services that they need. As your prime minister I am wounded each time a Saint Lucian has to go to Martinique or Barbados for treatment because we do not have the resources. I know that we have the human resources. There can be no question that we have excellent and well trained doctors in Saint Lucia, doctors who are dedicated to their profession, doctors who want to give of their very best that they have but we suffer because we do not have all the resources that we need to provide the health care that the country demands.”

Dr. Anthony is of the view that Saint Lucia can provide the resources needed to enhance its health services but the key lies in maximising returns from the services that is provided.

“There are Saint Lucians who have the ability to pay but will not pay because they feel that the institution is a government institution and so the government must bear the responsibility. There are those who have never historically have never bothered or cared about paying their bills but I know too that there are thousand of Saint Lucian who are also unable to pay, they are willing but either they do not attract employment, do not have the kind of savings that they need to meet the cost of health care and we cannot as a country deny those individuals health care because they are destitute, because they are unemployed,” Dr. Anthony explained.

It is hoped that with the inauguration of the new management board for the St. Jude Hospital, the problem of health financing can be addressed. Already Dr. Anthony has outlined a number of options to enhance the island’s health care. These include the entire nation bearing the responsibility of financing health care, implementing new methods of securing financing for the hospital and health facilities.

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