GLOWING REVIEWS FOR HEALTH FINANCING CONFERENCE IN ANGUILLA
The Honourable Premier, Mr. Victor Banks has paid glowing tributes to the Anguilla Social Security Board for its superb hosting of the 13th Caribbean Conference on National Health Financing Initiatives from November 6th to 8th, 2019, held at Resort and Residences at Cuisinart Conference Centre. The Conference was formally opened by Mr. Banks, who emphasized the government's commitment to universal health coverage and intensified action to implement the proposed National Health Insurance Plan as part of the broader agenda of Sustainable Development Goals. He stated "It was incredible to see the large number of health, finance, social security and academic professionals from throughout the Caribbean and beyond, and the vigor with which they approached the subject of sustainable heath financing, which is so very vital for us all. It was particularly important and timely for my Government, which is pursuing the early introduction of a comprehensive National Health Insurance programme for Anguilla. We are finalizing the draft legislation and will advance this in the new year".
The Honourable Minister of Health, Mr. Evans McNeil Rogers and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Merwyn Foster Rogers, also addressed the Conference. Minister Rogers shared information on some of the strategic measures being undertaken to improve health services for all and the need for more 'preventive care' and 'healthy living' by all to enhance one's quality of life. Permanent Secretary Health, Mr. Foster Rogers was not only a participant, but also a presenter at the Conference. Both government officials were also impressed with the outcomes of the Conference and deemed it a success.
Conference Coordinator, Dr. Stanley Lalta shared his high praises for what he considered a very successful and well-organized Conference. He stated that 'more efficient spending in health care' and 'leave no one behind' are among the key messages emanating from the recently concluded Conference. He reported that presentations and discussions at the Conference focused on some of the critical challenges encountered in financing health services such as the 'fiscal space' for getting and sustaining more public resources for health care as well as issues pertaining to the cost of 'chronic diseases', 'aging populations', 'technological innovations', 'climate change' and health rights'. Further, Dr. Lalta 'also reported that participants generally agreed that the Conference contributed significantly to their 'pool of knowledge' and 'capacity' for designing and managing health financing plans in their respective countries. In addition, several agencies held one-on-one discussions with each other and identified joint opportunities for further networking and partnerships with plans to take action on these in the coming months. The next Conference will be held in Antigua and Barbuda at a date to be fixed in the second half of 2020.
Director of Social Security Board, Mr. Timothy Hodge, has also expressed his pleasure with the outcomes of the 13th Caribbean Conference on National Health Financing Initiatives which the Anguilla Social Security Board hosted during Social Security Week (November 3rd to 9th). Social Security systems in the Caribbean helped to create the conference, which focusses on health financing, because of the close nexus between social security and health. The Conference has been organized annually by the Health Economics Unit of the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, with Dr. Stanley Lalta as the Conference Coordinator. Mr. Hodge told the Anguillian "As I stated in my Anniversary Address, Social Security has a vested interest in the health of the workers of Anguilla, as unhealthy workers leave the workforce earlier and therefore contribute less to the Fund, and consequently begin to benefit earlier from the Fund. It has been well said that "The Health of the Nation is the Wealth of the Nation", similarly, it is true that the health of the worker is the strength of the social security system. The Board therefore continues to promote equitable, efficient and affordable health care for all, to support healthy lifestyles, and to advocate for the introduction of a National Health Insurance programme for Anguilla".
The 13th Caribbean Conference on National Health Financing Initiatives brought together about 100 local and overseas participants. This included about eighty (80) senior officials from international and regional agencies - public and private from 14 Caribbean countries, Columbia, Canada and the USA. The Conference's theme "Health Financing: Fiscal Space and Sustainability Challenges" fit neatly into the theme for Social Security Week, "Social Security: Promoting a Culture of Health and Financial Security", as did the Social Security Board/University of the West Indies Open Campus Anguilla Distinguished Lecture, which was delivered by Dr. Lalta on the topic "Connecting the Dots: Patterns of Work, Health and the Future of Social Security in the Caribbean". The Director stated that overall, the Conference was a complete success, with excellent presentations, meaningful discussions, and numerous invaluable takeaways, which will serve Anguilla well as it pursues a National Health Insurance programme in the near future. Indeed, he stated that many of the participants praised the Conference as the most meaningful yet, setting a very high bar for next year's host, Antigua, to reach. He expressed gratitude to his staff for doing a tremendous job in organizing what was quite a large event, and to Cuisinart Resort for its "world class" facilities and being "excellent hosts".