Minister hopes new plan fits financial reality

POSTED: 09/12/11 12:08 PM

GREAT BAY, St. Maarten – Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor Cornelius De Weever has expressed the hope that participants at last week’s four day workshop to craft the HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan 2012 – 2016 delivered realistic targets. The request was made because of the financial reality that the government is dealing with.

“I am pretty sure that this plan will make the rounds throughout the ministries as a multi-sectoral plan and I am confident that it comes with a price tag. As much as we do not want to lose the momentum or be discouraged – we have to be realistic about government’s financial reality. Our challenge in life is to keep moving forward by setting realistic priorities and achievable goals – government has to engage in its own balancing act by balancing St. Maarten’s budget.

The five questions that have guided your workshops will also guide government’s budget: Where are we now? Where do we wish to be? How will we get there? How do we know we have arrived and How do we keep moving forward,” de Weever said.

The minister has also said that the plan must place focus on prevention as the discussion continues on which illness or disease gets the most funding. This is made more important because the government has not yet determined what it costs to treat several types of illnesses.

“When we cannot determine the cost of a diabetic who may need an amputation or the cost of  hypertensive patient getting a stroke  and needing physical therapy or specialized medical equipment or the person living with HIV and undergoing care and treatment – how do we determine how each dollar is spent. These are choices that we will all have to deal with,” de Weever said.

The minister is convinced that prevention or self care must be stressed because his time as a civil servant at the Programme Management team for HIV/AIDS has re-enforced that “HIV is a personal responsibility. More people focusing on prevention will help in the efforts around the National Health Insurance and the Health Information System, which are also still being prepared.

De Weever has also pressed for stakeholders to have the will to implement the plan once it is finalized.

“We cannot afford for this strategic plan to collect dust on a shelf. It must be a living document and by the presence and involvement of the prime minister and the minister of health – I would say that there is political will. It is with this will that we all should commit to our role in this fight,” De Weever said.

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