“A self-sustaining health care system will be the end product seen from the improvements to be had from the 2013-2014 budget.” This is the promise coming from Secretary of Health and Social Services Claudia Groome-Duke during her budget response on Thursday.
Speaking in the House of Assembly Secretary Groome-Duke also noted that social service intervention was moving rapidly to first world status with stated improvements. She said she had adopted the method of public engagement to continually improve what was available and fill the gaps in service delivery.
“We have implemented the publication of Performance Standards for better governance so that the public will be aware of how well we are performing,” noted Groome-Duke. “From as early as pre-school to as late as senior living, we are developing programmes to address behavioural health associated with life style diseases, CNCD, Chronic diseases, safety and social health.”
Secretary Groome-Duke said she was seeking to extricate the allocation of funds for the Senior Citizens Grant that was under the aegis of the Ministry of the People to ensure that this did not remain a promise. She noted that, “this fund was transferred from the THA when the cheque system was introduced with the thinking that it will facilitate the administrative process but the senior citizens of Tobago have complained of the inefficiency in the disbursement of the grant and wanted the allocation to return to the THA.”
Social Welfare was under the 5th Schedule of the Tobago House of Assembly, she added.
According to the Health Secretary this will not only ensure healthy minds but lead to a lifestyle where people live to be healthy as compared to living not to be sick.
To this end programmes dealing with substance abuse, vagrancy and gender programmes and policy were in the pipeline to ensure that no Tobagonian was allowed to be neglected by the State or their families.
Secretary Groome-Duke further stated to the house that, “a healthy lifestyle must be complimented with a healthy environment.” This comes with a Comprehensive Solid Waste Plan which included increased garbage collection, the introduction of litter wardens, improved pest control especially in relation to rats and mosquitoes and the changing of the types of bins in some instances.
With regards to serious health care, Assemblyman Groome-Duke highlighted the movement towards the accreditation of the Scarborough General Hospital which will eventually support a teaching hospital. This will also see the encouraging of educational tourism and initial talks have already taken place with Suny Downstate Medical Centre towards this end.
In her contribution she further noted that there will be an expansion of medical tourism as already the process was being solidified via a framework to ensure that the benefits were well chronicled and ensure that the visits were structured.
Another highlight was the announcement that more doctors were being recruited and there will soon be an expansion of primary care services and a re-commissioning of the old hospital for use as a rehabilitation centre.
Secretary Groome-Duke assured the House and the public that better customer services and greater public accountability will be a standard operating procedure over the next coming years.