The local Health Ministry has spent in excess of $100 M this year in its efforts to provide medical assistance to citizens.
Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy made this disclosure yesterday during a press briefing at the Health Ministry’s Brickdam headquarters.
“We at the Ministry provide a great deal of assistance…At the central ministry, in 2008 we would have spent almost $100 M helping people and this does not include the assistance we give to institutions to reduce cost.”
According to the Minister, if efforts were made to include the real cost for hip replacement surgeries, cardiac open heart surgery, cardiac stenting or radio therapy the amount of money spent would double or will almost triple.
“The real cost of the services obtained by people is more like $300M to $500M and it will be more if we include surgery for open heart…”
Minister Ramsammy disclosed that in the area of open heart surgery the cost would be about US$5,000 to US$7,000, most of which is paid by Government. He explained that had such patients travelled to Trinidad for medical attention it would cost them in excess of US$25,000.
The Minister noted that in addition to financial assistance, his Ministry’s assistance also ensures that patients are not obligated to pay for accommodation, electricity or water since all operations are done at the GPHC.
“(For) the cardiac patients, all of their medicine comes from the GPHC. These patients are not paying for this is part of the package. If they had gone to Trinidad this would have been an additional expense,” the Minister asserted.
Further assistance, he disclosed, is extended to patients by the individual regional health facilities through the act of financing the referral of patients.
“If you look at what Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine pay out to assist patients, you will be adding another $10 to $15 M on an annual basis,” the Minister added.
He said that since the Ministry offers free heath care service which consumes a huge part of the national budget, every effort must be made to focus expenditure on real health issues and not on non-health factors.
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