Health in Antigua and Barbuda

Hon. Willmoth Daniel

Minister of Health, Social Transformation and Consumer Affairs

The government of Antigua and Barbuda is committed to ensuring the health and wellness of citizens and residents of our twin island state. We have sought to do this by providing strong leadership, governance, service provision, adequate and sustainable financing and by fostering public and private sector partnerships. We are currently developing a National Strategic Plan for health and have developed policies and plans in the areas of mental health, aging, non-communicable diseases and health information systems. Recognizing that many of the current public health problems need to be addressed within a legislative framework, we have not only updated legislation to regulate healthcare providers but have also drafted new legislation for tobacco control and food safety.

Healthcare services in Antigua and Barbuda are provided through a network of twenty-six community health clinics, one public hospital in Antigua and an eight bed medical facility in Barbuda. The clinics are staffed by a cadre of healthcare workers who utilize the team approach in delivering primary healthcare to citizens and residents. Successes include almost 100% coverage for vaccine preventable diseases. We are committed to the renewal of primary healthcare, a vital component of our health system, which will help to ensure programme sustainability.

The government of Antigua and Barbuda has long recognized the morbidity and mortality associated with chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and chronic respiratory disease. We have provided medication, medical supplies, and medical services free of cost to persons with these conditions for many years through the Medical Benefits Scheme. However, recognizing that many of these conditions are lifestyle related and can be prevented utilizing cost effective interventions that focus on obesity, diet, exercise and a reduction in tobacco use and the harmful use of alcohol, the Scheme has now included

prevention particularly in the youth as part of its programmes. The Ministry of Health recently established a Public and Private Sector Health Task Force that seeks to improve the relationship between both sectors through frequent dialogue and discussions. It is envisaged that this will lead to improved collaboration on patient referrals, information and data sharing and shared services.

The future for small island developing states such as Antigua and Barbuda holds many challenges including reduced financial resources, the negative impacts of globalization and limited human resources. However my government believes that focusing on the social determinants of health, strong political will and continued health system strengthening will help to ensure quality, equitable healthcare for citizens and residents will in turn help to ensure sustainable development.