World Health Day is a time for decision-makers, educators, advocates, and, indeed, the whole community to consider how we can improve health outcomes around the world and in our local communities.
The 2019 international focus on universal health coverage continues from last year, with particular attention to ensuring access to quality primary healthcare. The World Health Organisation argues that health is a human right and that everyone should have access to the information and services they need to take care of their own health and the health of their families.
This concept is the foundation for universal health coverage. It aims to ensure that individuals, their families and the community benefit as much as possible from healthcare that facilitates promotion and prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care. Moreover, it calls for such services to be available as close as possible to where individuals live and work.
The World Health Organisation asserts that all people and communities should have access as needed, without any kind of discrimination, to comprehensive, appropriate and timely, quality health services, without financial difficulties.
Here in the Cayman Islands we have worked for decades to facilitate access to the best possible primary healthcare for all persons resident in the Cayman Islands.
As a small-island nation with no direct taxation, this is more challenging than it sounds. Yet I would like to assure you that Government will continue to push for still-greater strides to be made in this fundamental field of healthcare.
The implementation of mandatory health insurance coverage more than two decades ago was an important step in this direction. It established a framework through which healthcare funding might be provided for all employees by way of health insurance, with employers and employees meeting the basic insurance premium costs fifty-fifty. This was followed a few years later by the formation of a national insurance company (CINICO) to provide coverage to civil servants, veterans, seamen, their families and the indigent. CINICO also serves to provide coverage for those with low income, the health impaired, and seniors who might otherwise struggle to get insurance.
Health insurance coverage for those 65 and over, and the fiscal sustainability of healthcare, are areas currently under strategic review to ensure that health coverage in the Cayman Islands meets the needs of our entire population as effectively as possible, whether young or old, rich or poor, Caymanian or resident.
Between the Health Services Authority, the Doctors Hospital, and Health City Cayman Islands, I can also say that a wider range of healthcare services is available to residents in these Islands than ever before.
I would like to take this opportunity to applaud all the efforts of public and private primary healthcare teams across the Islands. Each day, they play a crucial role in teaching patients how to take care of their health, advocating for their needs, coordinating their care and continuing to build trusted relationships
The Ministry of Health will also do its part by maintaining a focus on legislation and policies that seek to improve accessibility to healthcare. We will also strive to gather better health data so that we can target resources and make changes where they are needed most. We look forward to continuing our partnerships with the local health sector, healthcare advocates and community groups, as we work together to secure the best possible healthcare outcomes for the people of the Cayman Islands.
Dwayne Seymour is the Minister of Health.