Spot On – Achieving Goals.
Since coming to office in 2008, this Democratic Labour Party administration has had to make tough decisions to safeguard the future of the Barbadian economy and society. This was done in an effort to ensure that the State would be in a position to provide those benefits and services which are necessary. For the decisions which we have taken, we have endured heavy criticism from certain segments of the media but most of all from the other side of the political divide. Despite the constant ridicule and lack of support from a misguided opposition, we have continued to pursue our mandate to create a Barbados which is socially balanced, economically viable, environmentally sound and characterised by good honest governance.
We do not expect the opposition to sing our praises. However, we question the balanced nature of the reporting in some segments of the media. Yes, we have endured harsh and heavy criticism at times from the media. We do not run away from this neither do we try to stifle it. While the media flex their journalistic muscle and become accustom to using it again, we would at least ask that they be fair and balanced.
Earlier this week in another section of the press, a short, four column feature was provided to highlight the savings which the “controversial restructuring of the Barbados Drug Service” had attained two years after implementation. Yes, the column gave credit to the Barbados Drug Service (BDS) being able to achieve its goal by reducing its expenditure through a reduction in the unsustainably high reimbursements paid out in the Special Benefits Service from $40 Million in 2009-10 to $10.6 million in 2012-13. Overall the BDS was able to reduce its expenditure of the Ministry of Health’s budget from 13% to 6%. Cutting its expenditure by half after introduction of the so called, “controversial restructuring”.
When this restructuring was introduced, this administration and the then Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, were vilified for the action taken. We presented the public with the facts emphasizing the necessity for the action. However, the opposition and sections of the media went on a rampage, painting a bleak picture of the doom and gloom which would befall Barbadians. Town hall meetings were convened and the call in programmes were rife with stories of certain damnation. Yet, when the article can speak to the BDS being spot on and achieving its goals, not a word of credit or vindication was offered for this Democratic Labour Party which they had so harshly abused in the past.
The action taken by this DLP administration to restructure the BDS was not only necessary, but the best available option. The recent financial statements prove this. We commend our Cabinet in particular the current Minister of Health, John Boyce, for staying focused and achieving their goals.
The reimbursements paid to private pharmacies under the Special Benefits Services rose from $21, 851,776.00 in 2003-04 to an astoundingly high figure of $40,561,950.00 in 2009-10. Can you imagine the situation if we had to pay out such high sums of money at this time when the treasury is under pressure? It would not be possible and would result in chaos and panic with persons unable to receive their medication. As they say, “a stitch in time saves nine” and “prevention is better than cure”. The intervention of the DLP administration in 2010 has successfully brought this expenditure down to a more manageable level of $10,787,176.00 in 2011-12 and further to $10,636,956.00 in 2012-13. These amounts are far more sustainable.
We are also happy to report that Barbadians have made the necessary adjustments to the policy and still continue to access their medication. The number of prescriptions filled in the Private pharmacies have declined to 864,335 in 2012-13. A drop of just under one million fewer prescriptions when compared to the 2006-07 period. Under the new policy persons still receive their medication free of charge at the BDS pharmacies, which has seen an increase of prescription volume from 659,750 in 2006-07 to 1,206,351 in 2012-13. Although the public pharmacies are filling more prescriptions, the cost is still maintained within reasonable levels as a result of changes to the drugs on the formulary and other cost saving measures. In 2006-07 the expenditure in the public pharmacies was $11.4 million this expenditure is now $13,481,501.00 in 2012-13 even though the number of prescriptions filled has doubled.
These achievements are worthy of giving credit and praise. We wish that our opposition, instead of being so childish and callous, would stay in Parliament and do the people’s work. If the restructuring was not done the circumstances would be far more dire for the people of Barbados.