by Linda Straker
- Grenada’s system provides a healthcare facility within 3 miles of every citizen
- Presently 36 healthcare facilities throughout the country
Dr Francis Martin, Senior Medical Officer, has said that Grenada will not be able to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) if there is no healthcare financing reform. He is also warning that if effective sustainable measures are not put in place for the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) initiative, its impact will not be felt.
“Universal Health Coverage cannot be achieved if there is no healthcare financing reform for universal access. You are here over the next 2 days to chart the path and the course for us to achieve this. It is not an option; we must do it,” Dr Martin told participants attending a 2-day consultation on the National Health Insurance initiative undertaken by JIPA, the Miami-based company contracted by government to complete the process for implementation of the project.
Martin who has responsibility for primary healthcare in the Ministry of Health said that because international support for such initiatives undertaken by governments is dwindling, Grenada and other countries cannot depend on international agencies to finance some initiatives. “We must revitalise our primary healthcare system. Make no bones about it, if healthcare budgeting and allocating for healthcare budgeting remains the same, then the government has to make a hard choice and reallocate the funds,” he said.
“It is easy to put doctors and nurses in the hospital, but the science and the research suggest that the doctors and nurses should be in the community, not the hospital. Unfortunately, we have a population that believes in hospitals, we have a people who think, who measure a healthcare system by how good the hospital functions,” he said.
In an emotional presentation, Dr Martin said that when there is no lab test, when there is no medication, people demonstrate in the streets because to them, the healthcare system means good medication, but this is just a small piece of the holistic healthcare system. “We have to stop thinking that – demonstrate because your health centre is not open, demonstrate because there are no doctors there every day in the health centres, not the hospital,” said Martin. He pointed out that since the 1980s, Grenada adopted a system whereby a healthcare facility should be within 3 miles of every citizen.
There are presently 36 healthcare facilities throughout the country, a combination of health centres, medical stations, 3 quasi-hospitals, and 1 general hospital.
Martin is also warning that the National Health Insurance will go bust if the people think that a better hospital means better healthcare.
Grenada, through its signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is committed to providing universal health coverage for its citizens.