Minister of Health, Dr. Duane Sands on Friday responded to the concerns of medical students at the University of the West Indies (UWI), who recently made claims that the Government had cut their funding.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Sands said funding had not been cut but instead increased to create a more balanced healthcare product.
The government, he said, cannot dedicate all of its funding to doctors alone.
“If you invest only in doctors, then you wind up with a problem with nurses or you don’t have enough physical therapists or enough occupational therapists,” he said. “What we have decided to do as a government is to look holistically at the needs of the country and to balance these needs.”
The health minister said training doesn’t just involve medical school; it involves what comes after. He said if the government exhausts its budget on medical school [funding] then they would not be able to provide training opportunities for others.
Sands described the controversy over funding for UWI students as “a glass half full and a glass half empty issue.” He said the government has made a phenomenal investment in medical training over the years, but they have recognized that planning has not been the best.
He added that because of this issue, many doctors in training find themselves stuck, cannot be certified, and cannot progress to advance their education.
The UWI medical program welcomed some 65 freshman students this year and, according to Sands, the government could not afford to accommodate them at public and private health care facilities in the Bahamas.
Dr. Sands said the focus of the government is to create a balanced health care system that accommodates the needs of the Bahamian people.