While noting that his government is targeting foreigners to help cover the operational costs at Peebles Hospital, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith this week disclosed that there has been a ‘significant increase’ in the number of people seeking medical attention at both the hospital and community clinics.
At health centres, for example, the total number of patients has increased by nearly 50 percent.
“With the advent of the National Health Insurance (NHI), the BVI Health Services Authority has recorded a significant increase in patient flows. We expect this trend to continue.”
“With a 46 percent increase in the number of patients accessing care at community clinics, those systems are well used by the people. We extended operating hours at the Road Town and Rosalyn Penn Clinics,” Premier Smith said. He did not disclose any more figures in relation to healthcare access.
The premier, during his 2017 budget address on Monday, said he felt compelled to remind the public that his government’s investment in health and social development is extremely important.
He further stated that the cost of providing health cannot be borne only by persons residing in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), adding that greater access to the territory is needed if foreigners are to be targeted.
“The cost of upkeep of the physical plant which underpins our health care system cannot rest solely on the shoulders of the citizens of this territory. Our hospital was designed and constructed to serve a wider clientele that includes patients from around the region and even internationally.”
“And that is where the vision begins to go deeper and wider. Medical tourism, being championed by my health minister, presents us with an opportunity to generate additional revenue to help to defray the cost of operating the hospital. The success of this niche tourism market lies fundamentally in the ease of access to and from the territory,” Premier Smith further said.
“We have a focus on medical tourism and, with the success of the first medical tourism case under an agreement with The Atlantic Clinic based in the United States in 2016; and with planned investments in information, communications and air access, the BVI Health Services Authority and the BVI stand on the cusp of lucrative opportunities in the Medical Tourism industry.”
According to the territory’s political leader, Government will continue to improve the health service this year.
“We have increased the delivery of specialist services in Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Dermatology and Wound Care, and Paediatrics at community health clinics.”
“In 2017, we will continue refurbishment works in Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, and North Sound Clinics, and the construction of the new Nurse Iris O’Neal Medical Centre is on track for completion this year,” he said.
Premier Smith, in the meantime, announced that the Ministry of Health and Social Development is this year getting 19 percent of the territory’s $3,112,631 projected revenue budget.
Zooming in on the health ministry, the premier further said: “In the Ministry of Health, we will complete the Nurse Iris O’Neal Health Care Facility on Virgin Gorda and other vital social development initiatives throughout the Territory. We also intend to progress investments in the 911 emergency system and proceed with the accreditation of our healthcare system. The Ministry of Health, therefore, has a budgeted capital expenditure programme of some $3,000,000 to be funded from loan funds and another $3,650,000 from operational surpluses.”
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