The Cayman Islands government has issued a national health policy and strategic plan for healthcare for the first time.
“With this strategic plan, developed in collaboration with public and private sector leaders, we have for the first time an overarching guiding policy that outlines our visions, goals and objectives from our healthcare initiatives,” Health Minister Mark Scotland said Thursday while releasing the report publicly during a Cabinet media briefing.
“For government agencies, this means they can now move from strategy to implementation, efficiently and purposefully; and for our private sector health partners, it means they can align their efforts with the national health objectives,” he said.
Among the policies set out in the document are a commitment to deal with obesity and non-communicable diseases.
The government spends an increasing amount of its budgets on healthcare costs, with a fifth of the budget earmarked for healthcare this year.
The new policy was put together with the help of the Pan American Health Organisation and the World Health Organisation.
During the process, those involved identified some of the major challenges facing the territory’s healthcare system. These included: “an increase in socio-behavioural risk factors resulting in a growing epidemic of non-communicable disease; shifting needs and health service expectations among the population; the growing burden on health services from chronic illnesses; and rising healthcare costs.”
The new strategic plan for Cayman’s healthcare will require the development of a costed annual operational plan, followed by ongoing monitoring and evaluation.
According to the policy document, based on statistics from the Health Services Authority, high blood pressure is the top diagnosis in the Cayman Islands, with 3,273 HSA patients suffering this condition in 2010, compared to 2,581 four years earlier. Diabetes is the second most prevalent disease, followed by mental disorders.
The new strategic plan also takes into account the infant mortality rate in the Cayman Islands, which accounted for 5.1 of 1,000 births in 2011. The number of infant deaths doubled from 2010 and 2011, from two to four. The mortality rate for perinatal babies, which refers to the period five months before and up to one month after birth, was 6.4 of 1,000 live births.