Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 17, 2017 (SKNIS): The theme chosen for this year’s Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Health Research Conference, “Sustainable Health Systems for Economic Growth, Development and Wealth” is significant on many levels, says Minister of State with responsibility for Health, Honourable Wendy Phipps.
Minister Phipps highlighted this significance during a press conference held on April 17, 2018, at Government Headquarters.
“[The theme] is a strange combination, but an important combination because these three facets are not mutually exclusive; they are all interdependent,” she said. “A country that does not have health is a country that can’t have wealth and by extension there can be no economic growth without the various factors that go into the development of a country’s economy, and would safeguard its own economic competitiveness without the health and wellness of the human factor that drives production and competitiveness at the national, regional and international levels.”
The minister stated that it is important for the ministry to focus on the issue of health promotion within the context of building wealth. She added that “the human resource base is the key factor that determines at the end of the day what type of country we run.”
“What kind of member state do we consider ourselves to be within the sub regional context of the OECS and the larger grouping of the CARICOM member states and wider fields such as the United Nations member states? It is basically because regardless of the amount of investments that we attract, whether it’s local investment or foreign direct investment, joint ventures between local business partners and foreign investors, and all of the concrete that we can put in place and all of the institutions that we can put down, everything cannot amount to a hill of beings without the human factor to power it. If we do not have the requisite skill sets, the aptitudes, the knowledge, the technical know-how, the vocational skill sets, even the academic know- how from those people who are gifted and so blessed, then we are basically ‘spinning top in mud.’ ”
Minister Phipps said that the theme of the conference is meant to become a “sobering reality on what it takes to transform economies, power countries and create the kind of legacy and future that you would wish to leave in the hands of the other generations based on what we would have built in the time that we have now.”
The conference is also being looked at as an opportunity to explore matters such as health and wellness from the standpoint of business opportunities.
“I see this as an opportunity therefore for us to build on what we have already started in St. Kitts and Nevis going back many years in terms of transforming our economy out of an agrarian based type of operation under sugar production and other small crop cultivation to a service driven economy that is obviously being led by tourism, the allied services and other professional services,” she said.
The minister added that there is room for health and wellness businesses as there is already medical education—offshore education provided by the various universities that are on St. Kitts. There is also opportunity for business as it relates to wellness tourism, she said.
It is hoped that some of the topics that will emerge from the conference will zero in on some of the overarching ambitions and opportunities for economic growth.