REMARKS BY THE HONOURABLE VINCENT O. WHEATLEY
MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
AT THE OPENING CEREMONY FOR THE
THIRTY-SIXTH OECS/PPS POLICY BOARD MEETING &
NINTH COUNCIL OF MINISTERS: HEALTH
MONDAY, 9th OCTOBER 2023
I wish to acknowledge the protocol that has been established, but wish to also recognize the Premier, my Honourable colleagues here present, and my Honourable colleagues, who have journeyed for quite a distance to be here with us.
To our visiting OECS delegation and regional partners, it is my distinct pleasure to welcome you here today, to my home, the British Virgin Islands. I would have loved to take you to Virgin Gorda or Anegada, but I will save that for your next visit.
As we convene under the theme "Improving lives through preventive healthcare: an evidenced-based approach” let us commit ourselves to turning knowledge into action, working towards a future where wellness and prevention take center stage.
I must take this time to commend the OECS Pooled Procurement Services Team for their continuous work in providing a consistent supply of pharmaceuticals at reasonable prices. The advances that have been made in the region through the tireless work of the PPS Policy Board has propelled the Caribbean forward during the last decade. However, there is a lot of work yet to be done.
Funding medical care has always been an increasing expense, I have always said that it is very expensive to be sick and this is one of the core reasons why, preventative healthcare is at the forefront of my tenure as Minister for Health and Social Development.
Preventative measures take time to implement, so we need to start now! In our schools, in our homes, and even at work. Preventative healthcare is not just about managing symptoms; it is about stopping diseases and resultant health issues before they take control of your well-being and quality of life. It is also about adopting a proactive mindset, one that values wellness as a lifelong journey and not just a destination.
Preventing breast, rectal, and cervical cancers are paramount in our quest for better public health. These efforts not only save lives but also contribute to a higher quality of life for individuals. Early detection, lifestyle modifications, and access to regular screenings are pivotal steps in our shared journey towards reducing the burden of these cancers. By prioritizing prevention and awareness, we empower individuals to take charge of their health and foster a healthier Caribbean for all.
Many of us often get consumed in our daily lives and may neglect our health, until it becomes a greater issue. Let us change that narrative by getting regular check-ups, eating a balanced diet, engaging in physical activity and maintaining mental wellness practices.
In the Caribbean, we face a unique health challenge with our food; and trust me this is a challenge for me too. While very delicious, sometimes, our portion options and sizes are not conducive to our health. With small changes to our eating habits and choices, we can enjoy the best of both worlds, the pleasures of our cuisine and a healthier life.
During these meetings, I hope to engage in fruitful discussions surrounding how we can optimize our resources and best practices, through insightful presentations that spark new ideas, and collaborative efforts, that lead to innovative solutions for the challenges we collectively face.
In the lead up to these meetings, I have had the profound privilege to collaborate with our Outgoing Chair, Honourable Sir Molwyn Joseph. It is with deep respect for his dedication and vision that I congratulate and thank him for his stellar service in this role and I humbly accept the responsibility of carrying on this mantle. I really don’t know where he gets all the energy from, but he is an incredibly hard worker.
In closing, I must remind you all, that preventative healthcare is a gift, a gift that we give to ourselves. It is a commitment to a brighter, healthier tomorrow. So, let us not wait for illness to remind us of its value, let us champion a culture of prevention because, in the end, good health is our most precious asset. In the words of Honourable Mia Motley, our health is our first wealth.
I thank you for listening.