Safe health care a must

All across the world today, World Health Day is being observed.

This year’s theme, ‘save lives – make hospitals safe in emergencies’ focuses on the need to make hospitals, health facilities and healthcare workers safe in disasters and other emergencies.

Hospitals are home not only to doctors, nurses, hospital beds and medical equipment but also to laboratories, pharmacies, and blood banks – all critical components of the public health system. When a hospital is destroyed or crippled in a disaster, these essential services are lost at the moment they are most needed. While we cannot prevent natural hazards, we can and must ensure that our hospitals stand up to disasters, continuing to meet immediate health needs and providing critical long term care.

As Minister of Health, I am proud, and I applaud the many measures which have been implemented over many, many years in our Islands, which have strengthened the capacity of our readiness and resilience to respond to disasters and emergencies should they strike – when they strike.

Hurricane Ivan is a vivid reminder to all of us of the critical importance of well maintained and safe healthcare facilities, which provided critical life-saving support and treatment for those who were injured or needed medical attention.

In spite of the significant toll exacted by Hurricane Ivan, our infrastructure, the three main hospitals and most of our government and private sector healthcare facilities withstood the worst of the devastating effects. This has not been the situation in many of our neighbouring Caribbean countries and so we can consider ourselves blessed.

The price a country can pay for the failure of hospitals or health facilities due to disasters is too high when compared to the cost of making hospitals safe from disasters. This is the reason why my Ministry has provided critical funding to the Health Services Authority and strengthened the oversight role of the Health Practice Commission to ensure that our healthcare facilities can withstand these tests of time.

The Cayman Islands supports the initiatives being undertaken by the World Health Organisation and its international affiliates to draw attention to the importance of maintaining safe healthcare facilities and I assure you that we continue to do our part to make our hospitals safe from disasters, and commend all those who work to make them so.

Thank you.

May God bless us all.

Anthony Eden

Minister of Health and Human Services,