St Kitts and Nevis: “As we continue our highlights leading up to Independence let us take a look at the major developments made in the health sector over the years,” said St Kitts and Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) in a social media post.
The party further said that the health of a nation is a tremendously important aspect of any economy, and the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party has made tremendous contributions in this sector. Under the leadership of Sir Robert Bradshaw and Dr Denzil Douglas, there has been many major developments within the health sector.
A new hospital was built in Buckley’s, Basseterre in 1967 and commissioned for use on December 14 of that same year. However, the services did not begin until March 10, 1968. The hospital was named after Joseph Nathaniel France due to his invaluable service in the health and social development sectors.
The JNF General Hospital opened with “top-class facilities for a hospital of its size”.
• A Maternity Unit which was the “finest to be found anywhere” and it was said to be four (4) times the one at the old Cunningham Hospital. Attached to it was a proper Labour Suite with two (2) delivery rooms and an Operating Theatre.
• A modern surgical theatre
• Casualty and outpatient department
• Kitchen and laundry area
• Central Sterile Supplies Department which was a first for the Federation.
Between the period 1995-2015, the then SKNLP administration started a new health care strategy based on preventative medicine and community-based care. Major reconstructing of the existing health care system began with the building of new health centres and major refurbishments on old ones.
These changes included:
• Expansion and Refurbishment of the Joseph Nathaniel France General Hospital to a new state of the art hospital with a kidney unit, ophthalmic clinic, dental clinic, improved EMS, larger units and upgraded equipment.
• Expansion and Refurbishment of the Pogson hospital in Sandy Point to include a health center and dental clinic
• Construction and upgrading of health centers throughout the island in Basseterre, Cayon, Old Road, Ponds Pasture, Saddlers, Sandy Point, Molineux, St. Peter’s Tabernacle, St. Pauls and Dieppe Bay.
• Provision of scholarship opportunities for citizens to study medicine which brought an increase in local doctors in our Federation
• Creation of health programmes for the elderly and shut-in to provide better care for these citizens
• Upgrade of the X-ray, ICU and Tele-medical City Scan with new equipment and properly trained professionals
• Increase of Health training which was made available to all nurses both locally and regionally
Additionally the SKNLP
• Significantly reduced the rapid rise in HIV/AIDS cases within the Federation. HIV/AIDS was the leading cause of death of persons between the age of 15-44. The then Prime Minister, Dr Denzil Douglas, called it “a long and deadly shadow looming over the Caribbean”. He became the CARICOM spokesperson on the issue and initiated the reeducation process in St Kitts and Nevis.
An effective strategy to combat HIV/AIDS was outlined in a crisis report titled “Situation and Response Analysis – National AIDS Programme”. The report emphasized a comprehensive multi-sectoral approach to the challenge and the government committed the funds necessary to ensure the AIDS epidemic in St. Kitts & Nevis was controlled and contained.
• Established the HIV/AIDS Promotional Unit to ensure positive patients receive adequate care necessary
• Provided an opportunity for citizens to receive extensive eye care services in Cuba through a “Miracle Mission”
• Significantly reduced the level of infant and maternal mortality
• Approved the establishment of new International Medical Schools such as St. Theresa’s Medical University School of Medicine, Robert Ross International University of Nursing, Windsor University School of Medicine, International School of Science amongst others.
• The SKNLP also established the Solid Waste Plant that brought about a huge decrease in toxic emission which affected the health of the residents in the area.