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Big health bill

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Big health bill

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GOVERNMENT CANNOT AFFORD to continue to foot the rising health care bill, says Minister of Health Donville Inniss.
Speaking at the inaugural Caribbean Obesity Forum held at Hilton Barbados yesterday, Inniss said: “The Treasury will go broke if the state adopts a policy of placing an increasing amount of money in health care each financial year without seeking to reduce expenditure in some unnecessary areas.”
He said the Ministry of Health would be seeking approximately $400 million this year to execute the policies and programmes in the health care system.
Inniss revealed that current statistics ranked Barbados 12th among the most obese countries in the world, with 70 per cent of females being either overweight or obese while the percentage of males stood at 56 per cent.
He added that a report prepared by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital indicated that 25 per cent of the school age population was also either obese or overweight. Inniss said therefore the Ministry of Health was considering having special clinics specifically targeting overweight, obese and at-risk children with the requisite nutritional consult and dietary interventions.
General and Minimally Invasive Surgeon with Kingston Public Hospital in Jamaica, Dr Lindberg Simpson, said the focus was on the coordination of obesity treatment in the Caribbean as well as on fostering greater appreciation for the scope and depth of the problem.
Simpson, who is one of the coordinators of the two-and-a-half-day conference, also said the idea was to get physicians more familiar with current treatment options and how to make them available throughout the region.
He explained that there was a gap between local and international treatment.
“We are seeking to bridge that gap; the fact that we have gone and gathered the knowledge means that there is no knowledge deficit but certainly there is a deficit in terms of organization of resources and trained physicians.”
Simpson said that, currently, common surgical treatments such as gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy and lap banding done internationally were only available in two Caribbean countries, Trinidad and Jamaica. (LK)