Government needs to rethink its policy regarding access to drugs for the elderly, especially those most in need of the help.
St. James North MP Edmund Hinkson told the House of Assembly today that the decision to change the Barbados Drug Service policy regarded prescribed medicines for older Barbadians was wrong and needed changing.
He was speaking during debate on the White Paper On Aging. “In terms of our free medication policy and drug policy, this of course has come up for debate in the last Parliament where the present administration would have altered the free prescribed drug policy to some extent for chronic diseases,” the Barbados Labour Party spokesman said.
“I believe that as a matter of policy that government should ensure that all persons over age 65 have access to free prescribed drugs for chronic diseases, once they are not the beneficiary of medical insurance and once their financial status indicates that they cannot afford such medication.
“The Government really needs to … look at this issue in my opinion to adjust the national drug formulary to accommodate such a policy, so that none of our elderly be deprived of the prescribed drugs that they require to medicate their chronic diseases of which there are quite a few in terms of prevalence in Barbados.”
Hinkson added that these individuals “should not be deprived of such a right just because they are not a beneficiary of a medical insurance or because they are impoverished”. He also said the minimum contributory pension needed to be increased to at least the national poverty level.
“Many of the elderly are within that cadre of persons who are in the 20 per cent below the poverty range in our country, and this present administration has not adjusted the contributory pension scheme, as they ought to have done, to bring it to at least the national poverty level, whereby persons who are over 65, who are getting contributory pension, can survive in this harsh economic environment that Barbadians now find themselves in,” he stated.
“The pensions have not increased significantly under the Democratic Labour Party administration, nor have they been increased to accommodate the 30 per cent increase in cost of living since the Democratic Labour Party came into office in 2008.
“Government should take the clue of the Tom Adams Administration, which indexed pensions to cost of living and instituted a cost of living allowance that would have made adjustments to cost of living allowance when the rises came,” he added. (SC)