19 January, 2007

Health: Guest Editorial 2

Public Health”.

I was disturbed the other day when I heard a Minister of Government discussing the National Health Fund. He remarked that local people must pay their own way.

This would be all well and good, if we were all paying on a level playing field. When our government gives away our assets of land and tax concessions to billionaire investors, and can in the same breath ask the local people to pay extra for basic needs, then I call, “Foul!”

When the Social Security Scheme takes away 5% of the workers’ salaries, and has enough money to spend on basketball courts, money to send people overseas to watch cricket, and money to support many other frivolous activities, while there are no health benefits attached to the Scheme and only 60% employment benefit, then again I call, “Foul!”

If there is enough money in the Scheme to support all of these non-health issues, I think the Scheme needs to be re-engineered to ensure that the contributors benefit maximally, before the Board of Directors can have access to dispose of the workers’ hard-earned monies for frivolous activities.

These excess funds should be channeled into the National Health Fund.

This should be done before we are asked to pay more. The investors that are creating job-demands that outstrip our local population should be made to pay their own way! That is, not only should they be made to pay to secure the health needs of all the imported workers for their projects, but, they should pay customs duties like all other local businesses, rather than we the locals be made to pay our way and theirs as well. If they are made to pay for public lands given to them, even 50% of what they are getting for those lands from their customers, then there would be lots more money available for the National Health Fund.

So, when our government ministers could preside over the systematic divestment of the island’s land resources and tax assets, and Social Security could spend our precious funds on non-health issues, and our ministers still have the nerve to announce in the House of Assembly that we must pay our way, then I have no choice but to cry, “Foul!”






3 comments:

  1. Many persons have been saying for a long time the Social Security Board (SSB) needs oversight as to how the people money is spent and invested. Just look at their latest project with the UWI Professor. Imagine this gentleman came down to Anguilla several years ago to propose doing research on Ronald Webster's contribution to the island. It was not accepted at the time because of financial constraints. Now, the Director and the Board agree to have this research done. Do we really need a non Anguillian to tell us Mr. Webster contribution to Social Security and how it has benefitted Anguillians? Something this important should be written by an Anguillian. There are many persons looking to come to Anguilla on all kind of trump up research projects just to promote their own academic credentials.

    Many Anguillians have post graduate and/or PhD degrees who could do this unbias research. Why are we spending money on research when SS can't even give annual reports? Mr. Hodge appears to be obsess with rewriting the history of Mr. Webster. I respect Mr. Webster, but lets face it, he is not a poor man. Why haven't he built something for Anguillians to remember his legacy. He can easily build a natural history museum, a community Library, a cultural monument, something tangible. But I suppose we are still in the era of the USSR when men prefer to have their image carve in stone or bronze. It would not surprise me, if the SSB next project involves spending money on a idol of a man for the peasants to worship.

    The Board will always support the Director. But Board members must realize their function is one of fiduciary responsibility and an advocate for the people of Anguilla. Every contributor to the SS fund should be receiving an annual estimate of how much they would earn in benefits when they retire. This system is still in the dark age of technology. The SS needs to have their own computer data center. I haven't seen anything new in this system since Webster left office.

    Our system may look good now. But if we keep up this indiscriminate sponsoring and loan funding, the age for claiming benefits will increase and the salary payout percentage will go up. The National Health Fund is a copy cat system totally out of touch with the realities and limitations of Anguilla. It is set up so as to encourage gross abuses by the private doctors and health insurance agents. This is a failure of imagination on the part of the Minister. We have enough money in the SS fund by which a separate health insurance agency for all, can be spin off. However, I do support a mechanism by which we pay some of the cost. When people have no personal responsibility in a system, they tend to abuse it. I could say more but I'm tired of ideas falling on deaf ears. Perhaps I need to pitch my alternative plan to the opposition. It seems all they are good for is to criticize without offering an alternative.

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  2. I wonder how the post on public health got to the domain of social security. If you do the research you will see that social security has no mandate on providing or funding health services in Anguilla. It does have a Social Security Development Fund which has existed in legislation for over 20 years and funds socially desirable projects approved by the Board and the Minister.

    That fund has provided financing for sports facilities, as well as projects in health, education, culture and other areas aimed at improving the quality of life. i dont see how these could be termed "frivolous activities". Perhaps the creator of the post does not have any touch with reality if he can claim such.

    As to the comment, the poster should pay a little more attention to his own stated need for unbiased research and the advantages of the University of the West Indies conducting the research. The project as I understand it is not so much about Webster but about the Anguilla revolution and the improvements to the quality of life and also about the challenges including governance issues.

    The social security system does give reports, does have advanced data systems, and has made many significant improvements to the system started by Webster. By the way, that is part of what he built, part of his legacy.

    It has also been announced that social security's systems will be used to collect and manage the proposed National Health Fund. However the funds will be kept separate from each other so that the social security can deliver what it has ben mandated to do, provide for the employment security of workers and for their retirement.

    Both the original post and this comment should avoid making unresearched statements, as the next thing we may hear is that because social security has money it can pay the money out for (put your own frivolous idea here).

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  3. Great work. Keep it up. Weight Loss

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