Government’s Sustainable Recovery Plan has been given the thumbs up by an independent Senator, but he says it has come five years too late.
Professor Sir Henry Fraser said the economic plan, which got the Social Partnership’s stamp of approval, was an “excellent” plan to put the flagging economy on the right footing.
However, Sir Henry said the plan required years for Barbadians to fully benefit from the policy prescriptions. The retired academic and medical doctor noted that the recovery plan offered an opportunity to re-energize the island’s Social Partnership.
Speaking in the Senate today as debate continued on the 2018 Appropriation Bill, the independent senator added: “I have been calling for the resuscitation of the Social Partnership for six years. I was relieved when it happened . . . . This is an excellent policy document, but it would need another five years to create the plan to make it work and the interpretation of the document is rather interesting . . . . But I wish this policy document had been put before the Senate five years ago because it is hugely comprehensive.”
He added: “Most of the things in here we have been calling for for five years.”
Also, in his presentation, the former head of the Medical Sciences Faculty of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, also called for an increase in the budget for health promotion.
While he praised efforts to improve efficiency in the supply and procurement of medication under the National Drug Formulary, he cautioned that in some case the efficiencies might have “gone too far”, resulting in shortages on some occasions.
According to Sir Henry, these brief periods of drug shortages could mean life or death for some patients who rely on blood pressure medication, for example.
On the question of elderly care, the retired academic called for greater public/private sector partnerships to create better solutions for care of the island’s increasing number of retirees.
“Government has spent $42 million in geriatric care in 2011/ 2012 and it is down to $35 million which is almost a 20 per cent drop in the care of the elderly.”
The Caribbean Health Research Council, Sir Henry revealed, had commissioned him in 1982 to do a study of the elderly.
“Barbados had by far the highest per cent – 50 per cent more elderly patients than any other Caribbean country. We were at that time about ten per cent and it has increased significantly of the elderly over 65. Other Caribbean countries were between three and six per cent,” he noted.