Today we are celebrating yet another significant milestone in the improvement of quality health services as well as the creation of a vehicle enabling us to access life saving and much needed information in the field of health and medicine.
Ladies and gentlemen, today we are officially opening this newly refurbished Anse De Mai Health Centre.
Government’s aim is to focus on outputs and activities contributing to “a long and healthy life for all Dominicans”. The key objective will be to increase the life expectancy of citizens and ensure that all people have access to healthcare. In order for us to achieve this, our health professionals and personnel needs to well trained and knowledgeable in the field of medicine and health. As the Government of Dominica, we have an obligation towards the healthcare of our people. In this light, as a response to the call of our people during the December 2009 elections, health has been prioritized as the one of the key areas for the next five years.
As Minister for Health for the past 2 ½ years, I have been profoundly pleased to witness the progressive and well documented achievements accomplished in the health sector. Health services have expanded in terms of quality as well as quantity. The positive results are verified in terms of the increased number of services provided; new and improved health facilities built as well as the impact in terms of health status of the population.
Based on our health agenda we can safely say that we have experienced many
Substantial successes and we are on track for our 2013 goals. Our efforts to address Chronic Non Communicable Diseases have made impressive inroads.
On HIV/AIDS we have achieved remarkable performance as shown in the annual
Dominica 2011 Report. These achievements are attributed to the commitment of our nurses and the many others in our seven health districts.
My Ministry continues to assess the health system in view of identifying gaps and to address them so that you would have the highest quality of health possible, hence; the reason for the planning and implementation of this refurbishment project. You spoke and we listened, for years, your District Nurse complained of the safety of the health centre for her clients and through the commitment of our Prime Minister and the Government of Dominica, we were able to meet your needs to the extent of $245,339.
While our public system has provided free service, our country still faces challenges in the field of health financing. Unsustainable health care financing and improvement of health service management have also been among our major aims and my Ministry is working relentlessly to address it.
I can assure that we will continue to strive towards sustainable health care financing. However it is incumbent on you to make good use of the services of this centre. You cannot collect the medication and refuse to take it, they are at no cost to you but someone has to pay for it.
The refurbishment of your health centre should not be taken for granted; you must appreciate it as a gift and ensure that the services are accessed. There is actually no need to bypass your health centre and report to the casualty at the Portsmouth Hospital unless you are referred by your health practitioner, the Health Centre is now better equipped to provide the basic necessities for first line care and you should make use of it.
However just last month, the Ministry of Health accepted an over 2 million dollar donation in the form of medical equipment and supplies from the Peoples Republic of China. We are proud to say that an important part of this contribution is earmarked to be placed here in the Portsmouth Health District.
This district is the second largest on island, and a district which is home to the 2nd town and a significant economic contributor. We expect to see significant changes in the area of Port Health as we move towards establishing our IHR certified standards at all our ports. This is part of the reason why we have determined that the recently acquired Chemistry Analyser would be a wonderful addition to the facility at Portsmouth. This has come about by the generosity of our brothers in China which would greatly improve the kind of Lab services available within this district.
Our colleagues from Cuba at the Portsmouth Diagnostic centre have now been integrated into a partnership with our local staff at the PMH National laboratory, and will be rotated between the two facilities along with the local staff. This indicates that there will be the same standard of services and expertise available at both levels. The same is to be said in relation to the soon to be reinstated x-ray service and ultrasound departments of the diagnostic centre.
Of course this cannot be done under the same challenging structural situation at the RFA Hospital. This is why to the tune of $381,633.19 has been invested in the repair and sealing of the roof at the Portsmouth Hospital. The final touches to the
x-ray unit are also forthcoming.
Ladies and Gentlemen
I will now return to mention some of the achievements and challenges that define the health sector today so you can understand the reasons for such an investment by the Government.
I mentioned in my introduction that we have indications of a real improvement in some of the most significant indicators for health sector progress however I must refer to some of your own achievement at this health centre. I must highlight that in your own community we have seen:
- 0% mortality rates for children. That means you have had no deaths of children under 5 last year.
- According to our annual report we have had o% maternity deaths. No mothers died while giving or immediately after child birth.
It should be appreciated that achievement of these operational targets is partly to be explained by countrywide efforts made on increasing and improving immunization and maternal services.
- We have improved on our child health assessment by introducing the New Growth Charts which is an effective monitoring tool but was very costly. I urge you to safeguard it as you would with your bank book.
I applaud the efforts of your own district nurse and other health professionals in this area.
Last month Dominica captured the 2011 Surveillance Award from the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) of the Caribbean Sub Region in Recognition of Excellent Report .This award is furnished by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC). Let me commend the effort of our hard working health teams for this noble achievement.
I am indeed impressed with the linkages of the sector policies, the strategies, the programming and the projects we have done and how well they are coordinated towards addressing our goals. As Minister for Health I urge you to rise to the challenge of taking ownership for your own health. I am fascinated by the fact that you have your own seaport and can choose to eat fish daily and to have relaxing time on the beach; this for many is a 2 mile drive. You are blessed and should take advantage of these health promoting natural resources.
We are cognizant for the need to upgrade and furnish the nurses annex so your Resident Nurse can be available at all times and this will be addressed shortly. We solicit your patience as we work on this. You should support your nurse to maximize the services offered. Take care of your health centre.
In conclusion ladies and gentlemen, let me take this opportunity to re-emphasize the following. The Ministry of Health is busy with our immunization campaign as we have just completed vaccination week last week, and I request all parents to take their children under the age of five years to their nearest clinic to be immunized. The elderly are also urged to receive their seasonal “flu shot” vaccine.
I also urge the health workers to continue to show pride for their country by showing respect and care for all those who would walk through these doors. Your warmth and considerate attitude will determine the level of utilization by community members. Let’s all make a concerted effort to keep this building in good shape and make your health a priority. Let’s make improved quality of life and social well-being be our pride.