Today, I am pleased to provide highlights of the 2023/2024 Budget Allocation for the Ministry of Health.
The Ministry comprises four departments: the Ministry of Health Headquarters, which includes the Office of the Chief Medical Officer, the Department of Health, the Health Insurance Department and the hospitals. The Ministry of Health’s vision is to ensure healthy people in healthy communities.
The budget of one hundred and ninety-nine million, two hundred and forty thousand, one hundred and six dollars ($199,240,106) for the 2023/2024 financial year includes one hundred and fifty-five million, one hundred and fifty-eight thousand, seven hundred and sixty-two dollars ($155,158,762) in funding for King Edward Memorial Hospital and Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute.
This represents an overall increase of four million, seven hundred and forty thousand and ninety-five dollars ($4,740,095) or 2% compared with the Ministry’s original budget allocation for 2022/2023.
The Ministry of Health’s estimated revenue for 2023/2024 is fifty-five thousand dollars ($55,000). This is a substantial decrease compared with 2022/23, and is due to the elimination of the travel authorisation in November last year.
The Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) will receive one hundred and fifty-five million, one hundred and fifty-nine thousand dollars ($155,159,000), which is an increase of seven million, nine hundred thousand dollars ($7,900,000) for operations in 2023/24 compared with 2022/23. As noted by the Premier and Minister of Finance in the Budget Statement, the Government made a funding commitment of three hundred and twenty-two million dollars ($322,000,000) per year to BHB four years ago, and, unfortunately, did not reach this target. This financial commitment will help to ensure the hospital is placed on a more sound financial footing.
I’m pleased to highlight that in the coming year, seven hundred thousand dollars ($700,000) of capital funding is provided for the building permit, construction drawings and equipment purchase for the Mangrove Bay Clinic renovation.
This facility will provide high-quality healthcare services for the community in the island's west end.
The preparation will be undertaken in 2023/24 so that construction can commence early in 2024/25 as the building permit is obtained and the contractor selected and confirmed through the official tendering process.
The services being provided will include:
- Oral health services
- Well-baby visits, including child immunization and healthy development checks
- Physical therapy occupational therapy and speech-language pathology assessments and services
- Sexual and Reproductive health services
- Adult wellness clinics, and,
- Integrated mental health services in partnership with MWI.
Another critical programme for the Ministry is our transformation to universal health coverage (UHC) which requires the strategic planning of upcoming projects and ongoing engagement with key stakeholders to ensure decisions and actions impacting UHC are patient-focused and timely.
For this, there is an allocation in the Ministry’s Headquarters budget in the amount of one million, four hundred and sixty-three thousand dollars ($1,463,000) to establish a programme management office (PMO) for delivery of UHC, and a further nine hundred thousand dollars ($900,000) for consultants.
The PMO will manage the coordination, implementation, execution and integration of all projects and associated workstreams in 2023/24, and beyond, to accelerate change towards UHC. The PMO will also support the transitional governance structure whose purpose is to facilitate the engagement of the many, and wide-ranging, health system participants through stakeholder working groups and forums.
Also in the coming year, one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) of funding will be provided for the Barbara Ball Public Health Scholarship, which is awarded to Bermudian students with proven financial need seeking careers or professional development in public health.
It is offered in honour of Dr. Barbara Bertha Ball, the first born-Bermudian woman to practice medicine in Bermuda and a tireless champion for people's rights. This scholarship covers a range of healthcare fields of study that directly benefit public health and are a priority to public health needs in Bermuda.
The scholarship was last awarded in 2020 and was interrupted due to the demands of the pandemic.
During the next fiscal year, funding has also been made available for the Department of Health and several collaborating primary care physicians to demonstrate that the HEARTS protocol can get improved results locally, and to harvest the learning before the protocol is rolled out and available to the entire health system.
HEARTS in the Americas is the Pan American Health Organization’s flagship initiative for improving high blood pressure control and heart disease risk management in doctors’ offices using a standardised treatment protocol.
HEARTS has been implemented in 24 countries in the Americas and is a simple, practical, and easy-to-follow treatment protocol that can vastly improve the control of high blood pressure. This programme is part of an allocation of five hundred and thirty- four thousand dollars ($534,000) for health promotion and wellness.
Finally, I am pleased that the Government will extend customs duty exemption for investments in plant and equipment to the personal fitness sector. Regular physical activity can help prevent various health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. This duty relief will help our fitness facilities upgrade their equipment, which will benefit all of us trying our best to keep fit, active and healthy.
The Governments 2023/24 Budget provides a path to continued economic growth, and supports the Ministry of Health’s commitment to ensuring healthy people in healthy communities.