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LISTEN Audio: OFFICIAL ADDRESS IN OBSERVANCE OF WORLD HEALTH DAY 2018 Delivered by Minister of State with Responsibility for Health, Social Services, Gender Affairs & Community Development Hon Wendy Colleen Phipps

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Fellow Citizens and Residents of St. Kitts & Nevis:

Today, April 7th is being observed globally as World Health Day.
On this day, all of the United Nations (UN) Member States shine
the spotlight on the status of health and wellness in our planet.
This year’s World Health Day is being celebrated under the
theme: “Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere”,
with the accompanying slogan: “Health for All”.
As is customary, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is taking
the lead on this international observance of World Health Day to
raise awareness; advocate for further investment in health care;
and ensure that poor, indigent and other disadvantaged groups
are not denied access to quality health care just because they
cannot afford it. Access to quality health care is a basic human
right of all persons, and every UN member country has a solemn
obligation to provide such – and, in particular, to persons who may
be marginalized. This principle is precisely the core mandate that
has driven the WHO during its 70-year history.

The Federal Government considers it rather timely that the WHO
would choose universal health coverage as its 2018 World Health
Day theme. It is no secret that our Team Unity Administration
would have campaigned strongly about providing universal health
coverage to every individual in our Country, simply because our
people (1) are our greatest asset; and (2) deserve to live their lives
with dignity. This promise is being actively pursued and steady
progress has been made by a national commission to introduce the
well-needed coverage – especially for persons who cannot afford
the cost of their own care. Our Team Unity Government also
realises that persons with critical illnesses could very well find
themselves confronting serious financial challenges as the cost of
treatment could be prohibitive, and can quickly wipe out one’s life
savings. The result is a major downward slide in an individual’s
socio-economic status, and can result in bankruptcy. Among such
major illnesses confronting our people is kidney disease, given that
the cost of haemodialysis can total almost EC$125,000 per
individual, per year. Universal Health Coverage should make the
cost of such health care more accessible and affordable to patients.
As St. Kitts and Nevis celebrates World Health Day 2018 we
should be mindful of the fact that good health is a blessing that
should not be taken for granted. Every citizen and resident of our
Federation has the right and the responsibility to police his or her
health, to have regular medical check-ups, and practice healthy
diets and lifestyles that are inclusive of regular physical activity.
Our Nation’s health care providers in the public and private sectors
are willing partners with our people – but good health begins with

each and every one of us doing our part to get fit, get healthy, and
remain that way for as long as possible.
Our national and international data on health care continues to
demonstrate that when access to care is enhanced – and good
health prevails – quality of life is improved and life expectancy
increases. As such, the Federal Ministries of Health and Social
Services are fully committed to serving our people so that the
added benefits of good health and wellness can accrue. These
include job creation, poverty reduction, elimination of hunger,
competitiveness through our human resource base, and greater
attraction of investment in our economy.
The WHO is careful to note in this year’s World Health Day
message that while universal health coverage should be a basic
goal of all countries – and makes a major difference in the lives of
all people – the reality on the ground is far different. Some of the
key WHO statistics are as follows:
1. At least 50% of the world’s population do not have access to
essential health services;
2. Some 12% of the world’s population (or 800 million people)
spent at least 10% of their household income on health
expenses for themselves and their families;
3. Almost 100 million people are being driven into extreme
poverty, meaning that they are living on less than
approximately US$2 per day due to the need to pay for
health care out of their own pockets.

4. The high cost of health care is a global problem, even in rich,
developed countries within Europe, Latin America and parts
of Asia. Even in these countries the minimum household
expenditure on health care is still 10%.

As we observe World Health Day 2018 it is important to note that
universal health coverage is not simply a matter of making
financial provision for the cost of health care to all persons,
regardless of colour, creed, gender or social status. Provision of
universal health coverage also means that Governments must also
ensure that there is gradual expansion in medical services;
adequate investment in new medical technologies, plant,
equipment and infrastructure; necessary updating of medical
legislation and regulations; and continued provision of traditional
public health services such as safe water supply, immunization,
and vector control to prevent diseases carried by mosquitoes,
rodents and other pests.
It should be noted that wherever possible, the imperative for
continuous improvement in medical and health services should be
executed in partnership for maximum result: the Government, the
private sector, and donor agencies all have a role to play – since
none of these entities can achieve our health and wellness goals
independently. It is due to this spirit of partnership that the
Ministry of Health is pleased to announce that in observance of
World Health Day 2018 Government has partnered with Ross
University School of Veterinary Medicine to stage a Community

Health Fair at the Pogson Medical Centre in Sandy Point today,
April 7th, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. This programme will entail
free wellness screenings for blood pressure, blood glucose, body
mass index (BMI), vision, heart and lungs. Health Education and
Nutrition Counselling will also be provided, as well as an Exercise
Station. We encourage residents in Sandy Point and other
communities to take advantage of this free health screening
opportunity. The Ministry also wishes to remind the public that
these services are normally provided on a regular basis at the 17
health centres and four hospitals in the Federation.

Members of the public are therefore encouraged to visit these community and
institution-based health facilities and participate in these
screenings, most of which are still free of cost.

Thank you for listening

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