It would be unjust to suggest or insinuate that the non-implementation of a dedicated pool fund to assist seriously ill children within the Caribbean in need of specialist medical treatment overseas is due to a lack of concern, moral attitude, desire or will on the part of Caribbean Governments.
According to the ‘Report of the Caribbean Commission on Health and Development’ and the ‘Pan American Health Organisation’, political leaders and populations perceive a moral as well as a political imperative to ensure that health gains continue and are not eroded. Yet, there are several challenges to be faced:
- There are the old vulnerabilities of size and fragility of their economic base that, in turn, limit the resources to be dedicated to one or another sector.
- There is the vulnerability consequent on the high transactional costs in maintaining a health sector that seeks not only to improve the status quo, but also to respond to the legitimate demands of a population exposed to the influence of information from other cultures and other realities. The people’s perception of what is the appropriate standard or approach to their health is often cast in absolute terms and not referenced to the local environment.
- Thirdly, the Caribbean faces the ever present threat of natural hazards that become full-fledged disasters in the face of inadequate preparation.
Financial cost involved in maintaining a public health sector
Of the top 10 richest countries in the world, the United Kingdom is number 6, the NHS budget for England alone in 2015 has been set at £100bn yet according to the BBC the NHS in England, one of the richest countries in the world faces a funding gap of up to £2bn, about 2% of its budget.
As you can see the financial cost involved in maintaining a public health sector is huge, it is therefore not surprising that Caribbean governments faced with the challenges mentioned above have difficulty in establishing and maintaining a dedicate a pool of funds to assist children in need of specialist medical assistance overseas.
The Hearts and Stroke Foundation of Barbados
The Hearts and Stroke Foundation of Barbados report by cardiologist Dr. Richard Ishmael, stated that in the English speaking Caribbean 600 infants are born each year with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) and approximately 250-300 require surgery.
Dr. Ishmael, who is Consultant Cardiologist and Director of Cardiovascular Services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Barbados, said “it must be noted that the normal cost for heart surgery in the U.S. is about US$40,000, approximately £27000.00.
The traditional sources that are tapped for funding include government, the private sector, charitable organizations, and Individuals.
However, funding from these sources is relatively small, and not enough to cover the costs of the overseas programme.”
Paediatric Heart Surgery in the Caribbean
The World Health Organization (WHO) report on “Paediatric Heart Surgery in the Caribbean” states the following:
“The incidence of congenital, as well as acquired, heart disease among Caribbean infants and children continues to rise at an alarming rate. Because of this, those patients needing corrective or palliative heart surgery in most areas of the Caribbean ranges from 200 to 300 cases annually.
Historically, paediatric patients needing heart surgery were referred to centres within the United States if funding was available. Funding came from either their country’s government or from humanitarian aid available in the United States.
Although often very successful in correcting the patient’s underlying problem, the process became cost-prohibitive as health care expenditures in the United States rose. Subsequently, fewer and fewer infants and children were afforded the life-saving surgery they needed.”
YEARLY COST OF PAEDIATRIC HEART SURGERY
If we take the normal cost of individual heart surgery at £27000.00 and multiply it by the number of children born each year with Congenital Heart Disease and require surgery 250.
The total funds requires to secure specialist medical treatment overseas for 250 Caribbean children in need of Paediatric Heart Surgery each year is a staggering six million seven hundred fifty thousand pounds (£6750000.00).
In this modern age of human history, we do not believe or accept that a father or mother already grieved and distressed, should have the added pressure of having to make appeals in order to raise funds for the cost of their child’s overseas medical treatment.
Caribbean Aid CIC is the only Not for Profit organisation addressing this specific issue. We are passionate, determined and committed to our mission of supporting children throughout the Caribbean in need of overseas specialist medical treatment, ensuring that the best possible support is readily available as and when need.