PM Timothy Harris with Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla (centre) and CARICOM’s Assistant Secretary-General (Directorate for Human and Social Development), Dr. Douglas Slater on the sidelines of the high-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
In September 2019, the prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Timothy Harris, proclaimed at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York City, presented the country’s position in a stirring and effective statement that reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring social protection for health for its citizens.
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) held a high-level meeting on universal health coverage under the theme “Moving Together to Build a Healthier World”.
Prime Minister Harris, in his presentation said, “We believe that no one should have to skip taking a potentially life-saving scan or other procedure because of the cost, neither should they have to declare bankruptcy because of an expensive illness; and above all, we believe that equal access to healthcare is a basic human right. My administration has moved to protect that right.”
Outlining his administration’s achievements in removing barriers to healthcare access in St. Kitts and Nevis, Prime Minister Harris also said, “We have therefore removed value added tax (VAT) on medicines, introduced health information systems at our public health institutions, and enhanced access to mental healthcare and treatment. Additionally, we have established an oncology unit at our main hospital, all in an effort to increase access to healthcare services.”
He added: “St. Kitts and Nevis’ success in eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis inspires us to believe that commitment plus resources can generate success.”
PM Harris encouraged and challenged the global community, saying: “We need not only a whole of society approach but also a whole world approach to honour our commitment to the sustainable development goals. We need more done on climate change mitigation and resilience. Recent weather incidents in the Caribbean and most recently in the Bahamas show how easily health systems can be compromised through natural disasters. Therefore, small island developing states, irrespective of their GDP per capita and UN Human Development Index, will be unable to finance Universal Health Coverage without solidarity and global support.”
PM Harris serves as lead spokesman for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on Human Resources, Health and HIV/AIDS.
(Source: WIC News 9-2019)