Min. of Health and Wellness to strengthen health care & COVID-19 response

(BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)

By Lindsay Thompson

The Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville announced changes to the COVID-19 response, and the strengthening of health system integration and care, to start over the next 100 days. He made these revelations in a Communication on the COVID-19 Pandemic in The Bahamas, in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, October 27, 2021.

Dr. Darville announced that over the next 100 days, the Ministry of Health and Wellness would work to define new structural adjustments, which he said is needed in order to achieve the reforms necessary to maintain this dual focus.

“Over the next few weeks, we will unveil the new structural adjustments needed at the ministry in order to achieve the ministry’s new deliverables,” Dr. Darville stressed. And, he also shared his intention to give notice the COVID-19 Emergency Orders, once expired on November 13 2021, will not be renewed. Rather, he will bring to parliament new regulations, by way of the existing Health Services Act, to govern the pandemic.

“Already, we are in talks with the Office of the Attorney General to devise fresh new legislation to address the management of major health risks in The Bahamas. As part of this legislation, we will remove and redefine the role and duties of the Competent Authority,” he said, adding that this dual approach to healthcare reform will enhance the COVID-19 response and strengthen health system integration and care.

“Over the next 100 days, my ministry will also focus on creating a structured Health System integration,” Dr Darville said.

“This involves actively strengthening the Health System by improving Organization and Governance. Our first order of business will be to finalize and approve an organizational structure for the ministry of Health and Wellness.” He explained that this structure would include the following entities:

 The Ministry of Health and Wellness;
 Bahamas Public Health Institute;
 Public Health Act;
 Bahamas Health Service Authority; and,
 National Health Insurance Authority

“Additionally, we plan to strengthen our Health System integration by establishing a Project Management and Coordination Committee.

This committee will focus on establishing a project management and coordination framework to see ongoing programmes and projects in the
healthcare system come to fruition,” Dr. Darville said.

He also disclosed that his ministry has already begun strengthening public health surveillance to detect COVID-19 cases early through the use of expanded testing and contact tracing activities. And, as part of the expanded testing programme, he said that the ministry will rollout free rapid antigen testing to detect early COVID-19 cases, in New Providence, Grand Bahama and the Family Islands.

“By way of supplementary funding, my ministry will secure adequate funding for both expanded testing and contact tracing programmes at all ports of entry and by extension throughout the country,” Dr. Darville said.