Information Officer I
Ministry of Health and Social Development
Vornicia's House of Commerce, Long Bush
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
E-mail Address: FRandall@gov.vg
Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable Vincent. O. Wheatley said the just concluded OECS Ministers of Health meeting delved into the pressing healthcare issues facing members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
The Ninth Council of Ministers: Health Meeting was held back-to-back with the 36th OECS/Pooled Procurement Services (PPS) Policy Board Meeting which was dually chaired by Honourable Wheatley.
According to the Health Minister, one of the salient points discussed robustly during the sessions was the migration of health practitioners from OECS countries. Honourable Wheatley acknowledged that the Virgin Islands is one of the beneficiaries of the migration and stated that the Council looked at different ways to share the expertise of healthcare practitioners among OECS member states.
Honourable Wheatley said, "The question is now, how do we keep persons in the region so it would not be like St. Vincent and the Grenadines or St. Lucia is losing persons but instead they are sharing their expertise with somebody. That was one of the salient points we took away from the conference."
Minister Wheatley said that there is a need for deeper and wider collaboration among states in terms of what their needs are and that the meetings looked at the different expertise and best practices from each nation.
“I have learnt so much from the other countries about how they tackle problems that exist here, all in the name of getting better healthcare for our people both primary and tertiary," the Minister added.
Meanwhile, Director General of the OECS His Excellency, Dr. Didacus Jules reiterated Honourable Wheatley's point on the need for collaboration. Dr. Jules noted that most of the discussions at the two meetings centred on how the region can come together to better serve the people and improve healthcare.
The OECS Director General said the PPS Meeting focused heavily on pooling the procurement of medicine and medical supplies in the OECS to pay at a cheaper rate, and added that the OECS is seeking to transition to a position where everything is pooled.
“Whatever governments require that can be delivered more cost-effectively to them via pooling of the requirements across the OECS we can provide. It was a very important meeting because the back-to-back meetings allowed us to look at the needs of the health systems in the OECS and see how that can be aligned to real improvements in the quality of medical services available across the OECS,” Dr. Jules said.
Additionally, Minister for Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs in St. Lucia, Honourable Moses Jn. Baptiste said the meeting was fruitful as countries with lived experiences could share so that others from the sub-region can benefit.
Honourable Jn. Baptiste said, “Our meetings were very frank, very upfront and we looked at the problems in the OECS squarely and we tried our very best to have a plan of action which would cause our various issues to be looked at in the coming months and in the coming years.”
The Ministry of Health and Social Development hosted the ministers and other healthcare delegates from across the OECS from October 9 to12 to discuss the best course of action towards affordable healthcare in the OECS region. The 36th OECS/PPS Policy Board Meeting and the Ninth OECS Council of Ministers: Health was held under the theme: Improving Lives through Preventive Healthcare: An Evidence-Based Approach.
The Ministry of Health and Social Development remains committed to building partnerships and relationships that improve the health and social well-being of the people of the Virgin Islands.