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November 17, 2010


Leandra Esfakis

I enjoyed hearing the words of Dr. Hale again. Clear common sense needs more currency.

Arnold Cargill of NIB recently spoke to our Rotary Club about the new prescription drug plan. Apart from repeating several times that the programme offered "free" drugs, he made it seem laudable and plausible.

Funding is currently provided by NIB but will be financed by (another) payroll tax on the employed and self-employed in phase two. So it is not so free after all.

Yes, there are benefits to society of not having sick people waste productive time for lack of drugs, but what is the out-of-pocket cost to the taxpayer, and is this, as well as all the other NIB benefits, going to be sustainable?

Where is the individual responsibility for healthy choices?

Are we going down the Greek road, and is there an EU to bail us out?

Cargill also mentioned that they realized the high cost of treating preventable illness, and the NIB was aiming for a public education programme to teach healthy diets. No plans yet on how this programme is going to be implemented.

A healthy lifestyle programme for those identified as being "at risk" is too little, too late. It's like taking young adults who are before the court for crimes and saying, "Ok, we need to straighten these guys out."

Last time I read the annual budget we were spending most of our money on the Ministries of Education and Health. Yet we have chronic self-inflicted health problems and a high rate of illiteracy and innumeracy.

Ignorance and diets are a problem. And not just for the poor and uneducated.

At COB my Spanish students used to describe their favourite meals - only one in 20 would mention a vegetable or salad. The rest preferred fried foods, meats and starches.

Healthy lifestyles are generated usually in the home. But that is not going to happen if parents are coming from a position of ignorance, and offering KFC as a family diet. The way to tackle the issue is to teach diet and nutrition in school, from an early age, and limit the junk food that school cafeterias can sell.

At an older age, start showing photos of what happens to people with self-inflicted diseases and the medical treatment they need as a result. I used to see these kinds of photos in my father's medical texts lying around his study, as he contemplated what to do for his patients. It makes an impression.

An awareness of potential illness, and a lot of respect for your body is a good thing. The more conscientious children will go home and start pressuring their parents for better food, or at least know what to do for themselves when they have some say in the matter.

The less conscientious won't pay attention anyway. You win some, you lose some.

I wonder what the rate of health improvement would be if our schools had such a programme.

Since we are spending so much on education anyway, putting money into that programme should not be a loss leader, as it would pay off to some degree in healthier lifestyles in the population.

Similarly, there should be classes on civics, the basics of constitutional law, how to plan and manage a budget, and individual responsibility.

I had summer intern students in my law office who had never filled out a deposit slip and had no bank account - not even a small savings account.

I remember my father coming home in the 1960's from cocktail parties where the UBPs of the day would be in attendance. He would talk to them about the need for more investment in education. The response was that the Bahamas spent as much money on education per capita as Belize did.

My father asked "Why would you compare the premier tourist destination of the West Indies with a back-water swamp in Central America?

It is obvious that the quality of life in our society depends on the general level of education of the population as a whole.

They didn't get it then. Are "we" getting it now? If not now, When?

denise abrahamsen

Thanks for the relay of information with respect to healthcare in the Bahamas.

Your piece was quite revealing, as I was totally oblivious to the challenges faced in the past and the mammoth problem we have now.

I hope that the powers-that-be instill the value of preventive care, stressing healthy diets and making positive lifestyle changes.

Keep the information flowing!

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