ST. LUCIA – The findings of a feasibility study on increasing export of health care, health education and other related services in the health sector in St. Lucia are now in.
On Monday, January 29 the consultancy team from the London – based, Open University Centre for Education in Medicine, presented its report to External Affairs Minister Hon. Rufus Bousquet.
Giving an insight into the process which lead to this phase of the consultancy, Permanent Secretary in the External Affairs Ministry Cosmos Richardson, told the small gathering of policy makers in the public service that the consultancy was an initiative of his ministry, in recognition of the imperative for St. Lucia to diversify its economy. He added, “The Ministry approached the Commonwealth Secretariat on the possibility of doing a consultancy on the potential for developing in St. Lucia the export of health services.
The Secretariat readily accepted our proposal and with the help of the Ministry of Health, in particular the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stephen King, we prepared terms of reference which were submitted to the Secretariat through our High Commission in London, and of course the project proposal was refined at the Secretariat and accepted for implementation.”
The Open University Centre for Education in Medicine was the institution of choice to undertake the study.
Describing the study as ‘very timely’ St. Lucia’s Minister for External Affairs Honourable Rufus Bousquet, said the island had all the elements not to only diversify the tourism plant, but to provide opportunities for employment for St. Lucians.
With regard to medical tourism, the report states that in the next ten years, St. Lucia should have a medical tourism sector, that has a niche market in low capital investment activities.
“It is a document, according to Minister Bousquet which is of great significance to us. It is a document which no doubt we will study in far greater detail, and after having seen the various ideas the consultants have outlined, we will be able to take advantage of whatever strategic advantages we have here in St. Lucia, such as our weather and language. We are naturally endowed in terms of taking care of the medical needs of the world, ” he added.
It was observed that governments habitually shelve such documents, but Mr. Bousquet says, “in this case, it would be remiss of us if such opportunities are lost.”
While on island, the consultants made presentations to the private sector, and hospital administrators.
The consultancy team was lead by Professor Janet Grant, Director of the Open University Centre for Education in Medicine.