FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert said the covid19 pandemic offers a unique opportunity for countries to develop or improve systems to develop health care and pensions.
Imbert offered this view when he addressed a webinar hosted by the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) on Wednesday.
Referring to British prime minister Winston Churchill's famous "never let a good crisis go to waste" in the aftermath of World War II, Imbert said, "If we look past the pain, suffering and hardship associated with any crisis, one can see opportunities."
With respect to the pandemic, Imbert said covid19 "has accelerated many plans to utilise technology in a more meaningful manner.
He said he believed the crisis "also provides us with the opportunity not only to deploy technology in the health and pensions sector, but also to re-examine these systems.
"We have a chance to change the products offered or to offer new products that will reach more people."
He added, "We need to change the traditional structures and the legislation frameworks to facilitate this active evolution, while at all times ensuring that the most vulnerable in our society are protected."
In Trinidad and Tobago, Imbert said, the pandemic has seen technology being used to do diagnoses by cellphone. In these cases, the doctor had electronic access to the necessary information, discussed the matter with the patient and prescribed a course of action and medication, all accomplished through mobile technology, he said.
While some of the more advanced technological tools have not been fully deployed in TT, Imbert said, "The events following our first case of covid19 back in March 2020 have accelerated many of these initiatives."
Technology can also play a pivotal role, he said, in providing retirement and health coverage to the increasingly mobile workforce, for example by connecting through digital platforms.
"Many countries have also utilised mobile phone technology in particular to structure financial inclusion type products that are specifically targeted to the more vulnerable in society."
Imbert said longevity is an important factor in creating a nexus between themes of healthcare and pensions."