All patients treated in St Lucia
CASTRIES, St Lucia – The St Lucia government says it has no intention of following its Caribbean Community (CARICOM) neighbour, Barbados, and implement a new policy regarding the availability of health services to non-nationals, including Caribbean citizens.
“I think we are all West Indians, we are all Caribbean people. Whenever anyone needs help here that should be given, because we should never turn away anyone who is in need of medical care,” Health Minister Keith Mondesir said as he made his contribution to the debate on the EC$1.3 billion (US$481 million) budget.
Earlier this month, the Freundel Stuart administration said no medical services “including diagnostic, clinical or pharmaceutical shall be provided to individuals who are not citizens or lawful permanent residents”.
However the Barbados government said “medical services can be provided in circumstances of genuine emergency, pre-natal care, immunization, conditions of current public health significance and HIV/AIDS treatment”.
The government said individuals who are neither citizens nor permanent residents shall be advised to seek medical treatment from a private sector provider of his or her choice, adding that the new policy “is also applicable to individuals residing here on work permits”.
Mondesir told legislators that the Barbados policy flies in the face of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the 15-member regional integration grouping.
He said both public and private hospitals here have always welcomed and treated everyone and that would continue to be the policy of the Stephenson King administration.
“We have not encountered any problems in doing that so I see no reason why we should change that position or deny anyone health care regardless of where they come.
“And there is no question whether they are second or first on the line, as soon as their case is declared an emergency they should be dealt with like any other citizen of St. Lucia,” Mondesir added. (CMC)