The 2022 budget allocation for the health sector is $6.395 billion. This is $335 million more than the 2021 allocation of $6.050 billion. It is the second largest allocation in the budget after education.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert made the announcement during the reading of the budget on Monday.
He said the covid19 pandemic had exposed cracks in the health system and demonstrated how much an efficient health sector means for the economy. He listed some of the initiatives which government has taken to invest in the hospitals.
“The Arima Hospital was commissioned in June 2020 at a reduced cost from $1.8 billion to $1.6 billion. The Point Fortin Hospital was commissioned in July 2020 at a reduced cost from $1.5 billion to $1.2 billion.
The 106-bed Sangre Grande hospital is at an advanced stage and scheduled for completion in 2022.
The Diego Martin Health Centre was commissioned in October 2020, the Port of Spain General Hospital central block is being advanced with the completion of Phase I.
“A new administrative building for the Health Ministry is being constructed under a build-operate-lease-transfer (BOLT) arrangement at a cost of $250 million, and is due for commissioning in 2023. The regional health authorities have made significant improvements in capacity building, service delivery, infrastructure development and equipment upgrade over the last six years.”
Imbert said government has made significant progress in building resilience and creating better working-age people throughout the healthcare delivery systems.
“Maternal and child health have been improving. We are now at less than 30 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, down from 55 per 100,000 live births in 2015. This is equivalent to seven additional women’s lives saved every year since 2016.
“Neonatal mortality is now on the decline. We are now at under seven deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2015 we were at 12 deaths per 1,000 live births. This is equivalent to an additional 90 babies alive per year since 2017.
“The Chronic Disease Assistance Programme (CDAP) has been actively restructured and re-engineered, with the reordering cycle reduced from two month to one month, and the fees from $13 to $8 per item.
“Cancer screenings have escalated from 24,495 in 2015 to 54,163 in 2020 – an increase of 121 per cent.”
Imbert said the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training facility has been strategically repositioned and is contributing to the transformation of the delivery of health services in the country. He said 6,427 patients have already received diagnostic imaging services at that facility.
“The activities at the hospital will drive the economic turnaround through three core pillars. The first pillar seeks to complement other ongoing health strategies, to address the high burden of non-communicable diseases through the creation of centres of excellence. These centres are being located at the Couva hospital, beginning with a national centre for the treatment and management of renal disease.”
He said the second pillar represents repositioning and reprofiling medical education as part of the healthcare delivery diversification strategy for the economic transformation of the country.
“Medical tourism and offshore medical education are central to this strategy, and the strategy will be driven in a collaborative effort between the TT government and the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine.
“We have established a special-purpose company with a 51 per cent ownership by UWI to oversee and manage the execution of this initiative.
“The third pillar positions the Couva hospital as a full teaching university hospital aligned with the Faculty of Medical Sciences at UWI STA. The initiative will be managed by an international operator, which will see the establishment of a new standard of care, which we envisage will become the new and accepted standard of care for our hospitals and healthcare facilities.”
Imbert said Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh would expand further on the health sector during his contribution to the budget debate.