The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is targeting the year 2021 to launch its universal health care programme as part of its mandate to improve the population’s health and advance prosperity. The date is likely to be sometime in the second half of the year.
Honourable Eugene Hamilton, the minister responsible for National Health Insurance (NHI) said that significant work had been done over the past six years to move this initiative forward. In December 2019, an implementation report was prepared by the St. Kitts and Nevis National Commission for Universal Health Care (SKNNCUHC) and submitted to the Cabinet for consideration. The blueprint included recommendations from the Health Economics Unit at the Centre for Health and Economics, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad. An actuarial report outlining the cost of universal health coverage was also submitted.
“There is one important component which has to do with the drafting of the legislation,” Minister Hamilton said, noting that the overall NHI process is continuing. “We have already put out a plan to approach key stakeholders with some policy questions and the answers to those questions will ensure that we cover all of our bases prior to launching that system.”
The minister said that St. Kitts and Nevis is a signatory to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal. Goal 3 speaks to ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages. Additionally, the twin-island Federation is a signatory to the Pan American Health Organization Approved Strategy for Universal Access to Health and Universal Health Coverage.
While these agreements are important, the driving factor in implementing the NHI is to assist residents of the twin-island federation.
Minister Hamilton added that COVID-19 had stripped the country of revenue from many sources. This has directly impacted the implementation of the NHI. However, he reiterated that authorities were working hard to meet the goal of providing medical insurance coverage to all.