The Ministry of Health has been allocated the sum of $297,081,014 in the 2021-22 Budget in order to carry out its planned phased upgrade to health care facilities around the country. This was revealed by the Minister of Health the Hon Renward Wells during his contribution to the Budget Debate in the House of Assembly on Thursday, June 17, 2021. Minister Wells noted that over the past two years, The Bahamas faced Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the road to recovery is not an easy one.
He said however, that the country will recover based on the seven-pillared Accelerated Bahamas Recovery Plan that was recently tabled in the House of Assembly by the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. “My Ministry looks forward to participating in the rollout of that plan,” Minister Wells said, adding that healthcare improvements & vaccinations form the third pillar.
The $297,081,014 for the 2021/2022 fiscal year to support the Ministry of Health includes:
$223,455,825 for the Public Hospitals Authority;
$45,000,000 for the National Health Insurance Authority; and
$47,474,124 for the Department of Public Health.
These appropriations will facilitate four areas of the healthcare sector:
1 – Substantial investment in health infrastructure;
2 – Expansion of telemedicine to improve access to healthcare;
3 – Expansion of universal health coverage via National Health Insurance;
4 – Enhancement of supports to mitigate COVID-19, including vaccinations.
“We are a government, committed with our whole heart to the enhancement our healthcare system.
The focus is on saving lives, improving health outcomes, and putting much more care into the word healthcare’,” Mr. Wells said. He added, “We realize that in order to further achieve our desired outcomes, we will have to greatly improve our health infrastructure throughout the nation. We have taken the decision to renovate some structures and to build new ones. Consequently, renovations will be made to the priority wards and patient care environments to address bed shortages while ensuring compliance with COVID-19 space requirements and infection control practices.”
According to Mr. Wells, the intended goal of these improvements aligns with the core value — that all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. The Minister also shared the infrastructure plan, which incorporates the latest use of smart and green technology to provide for safe delivery of routine medical services, e-health services and telemedicine, and the safe management of all infectious diseases including COVID-19. Supported by funding acquired from the World Bank Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and the Inter-American Development Bank, Minister Wells said that the government will transform the face of the healthcare sector to modernize its facilities to reflect Universal Healthcare in the Public Hospitals Authority, the Department of Public Health, the National Health Insurance Authority and the Ministry of Health.
Also, infrastructural development in healthcare will take place at nine primary care clinics in seven islands, Minister Wells said.