By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
THE HEALTH of the healthcare system is top of mind for many Bahamians. The Free National Movement, Progressive Liberal Party, and Democratic National Alliance promise to improve the quality of healthcare in the Bahamas if elected as the next governing party.
The party's have similar plans to improve health care, including plans to construct small regional hospitals on several family islands. They also promise to implement national campaigns and programs to combat obesity and encourage healthy lifestyles for Bahamians.
In the FNM's Manifesto 2012 the party said they will construct a state-of-the-art maternal and child health wing and a new emergency department if re-elected.
During its time in office the FNM also promises to strengthen the focus on priority public health issues including, chronic non-communicable diseases, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, kidney and heart diseases, contagious diseases HIV/AIDS, TB infant mortality, mental health, and environmental and occupational health.
"We most definitely can benefit from a new emergency department. It is pretty obvious that the current emergency department is overwhelmed. When you go there you have to wait hours and hours before you can actually be attended to. We need this just as bad as we need a new hospital," said Patrice Forbes, a concerned Bahamian voter.
Additionally the FNM promises to make tele-medicine, the treatment and examination of patients via video technology, more available in the Family Islands. Among their plans to renovate and upgrade all community clinics, the FNM also pledge to extend visiting hours at community health clinics in New Providence to 10pm.
"I will hold this government to their manifesto if they come in power. I like some of the things they want to implement like extending visiting hours to 10pm. It makes sense because that is a longer time people get to spend with their families who are ill. It is important to bare in mind that people who have families in the hospital work and after you leave work you have to fight traffic to get there and by the time as you reach visiting hours are almost up," said Tashandra Neymour, a registered voter.
If elected as the next government the PLP promises to further develop and identify strategic clinics, which can provide diagnostics, day surgeries and other out patient services closer to where people live and work. They also seek to equip the Princess Margaret Hospital and the Rand Memorial Hospital with diagnostic and therapeutic instrumentation.
Reforming the healthcare infrastructure by streamlining and computerising records and inventory is also part of the PLP's plans. The party said this will ensure adequate supply of critical drugs and easy retrieval of patient records across the health care system.
"I remember one time I went to the Bailiou Hill Road clinic just to get my immunization record. It was such a tedious process because they do not keep their records in a computer. I waited and I waited so long for them to find it and they couldn't. After waiting a while longer they finally found it and the nurse told me it was stuck to someone else's record. To eliminate all of that I think it is important to computerise record keeping in the health care system," said a concerned Bahamian.
The PLP also promised to encourage healthy lifestyles through a national campaign.
"Bahamians need to learn how to make healthy choices in terms of their diet. A national campaign can be a good thing because the more and more people hear something or see something they begin top internalise it and change," said Dion Miller, a concerned Bahamian.
According to the DNA's "Vision 2012 and Beyond", if elected the party will establish a basic health care plan which will increase access to "affordable quality health care" for Bahamians.
The party will also create a national education strategy to combat chronic diseases such as diabetes hypertension, obesity and cancer.
Resources will be allocated to medical research and teaching centres through innovative partnerships with noted health care facilities and practitioners, according to Vision 2012.
The DNA also promised to ensure that government facilities and services are accessible to every Bahamian regardless of physical disabilities, and promised to develop medical tourism.
In the Family Islands, the DNA plans to increase local access to resources, including a wider selection of medicines.
"Any government that gets into party should make sure people have access to more medicines. Not everyone can take the same medicine some people have different reactions. But if there are a wider variety then it can be much better for individuals," said Jerome Adderly, a concerned Bahamian.