MOHW to launch Wellness Programme to combat NCDs and premature death

(BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)

The Ministry of Health and Wellness will launch its flagship wellness programme, which will play a major role in the fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs), premature morbidity and death.

The Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville made the announcement in his Mid-Year Budget Communication in the House of Assembly on Thursday, March 2, 2023.

He said over the last 17 months, there have been both challenges and strides in the delivery of healthcare throughout the country, particularly in a post COVID-19 environment.

“Like other countries around the world, The Bahamas is currently facing a post COVID-19 health crisis and that is in the increase incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases — mainly middle aged and elderly Bahamians needing extensive in-hospital care,” Dr. Darville said.

He added, “This increased demand for in-hospital care is putting excess strain on my ministry’s resources, and the delivery of both secondary and tertiary healthcare services is proving to be very challenging.”

He then explained that many of these unstable patients require recurrent hospitalization because of non-compliance with medication, diet and sometimes lack primary healthcare follow-up. And, in many cases resulting in re-admission sometimes weeks after being discharged from hospital.

“This is becoming a vicious cycle because these chronic patients continue to occupy the bulk of precious hospital beds making it extremely difficult to admit surgical, medical, obstetric and gynecological patients who in most cases, have been on waiting lists for years to have lifesaving, non-urgent surgical procedures completed,” Dr. Darville said.

He noted though, that he was pleased to report that his ministry is working “diligently” to correct this problem at the primary healthcare level with aggressive patient education, community nursing, and strong wellness programs to meet the patient at the community level.

“Along with the use of digital monitoring devices that would detect uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension in the community, we are aiming to have more patients stabilized at the primary healthcare level preventing unnecessary hospitalization,” he said.

Dr. Darville reported that his ministry is moving swiftly to improve the physical environment of the Princess Margaret Hospital, the Rand Memorial Hospital, the clinics, and is continuing to recruit additional medical specialists, nurses and trailed allied healthcare professionals to augment staff where necessary.

“All of this being done in an environment where our healthcare workers are being recruited from abroad,” he said.

Dr. Darville said he was pleased to report that his ministry is on target to accomplish a majority of the deliverables outlined in this year’s budget.

“My ministry received no significant budget cuts or noticed any major increases in projected expenditure,” he said. “In other words, we are on target to meeting our deliverables at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Public Hospitals Authority, the Department of Public Health and National Health Insurance.”   

By LINDSAY THOMPSON/Bahamas Information Services