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Atherden to present five-year action plan

Focus on prevention: Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health, Seniors and the Environment (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

A five-year plan for reforming Bermuda’s healthcare is to be presented tomorrow at a health symposium.

Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health, Seniors and Environment, said the Bermuda Health Strategy lays out 14 goals to be achieved by 2019.

“Moving that forward, we have an action plan that talks about the actual initiatives that we are working on right now, for better health, better spending and more access,” she said.

“It’s not just about spending money. We are trying to change the emphasis from care to prevention.”

Ms Atherden will open a forum at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute to speak about the plans, which follow from the National Health Plan that came out in 2011.

The minister said the plan had been “tweaked” and changed from “a conceptual plan to an action plan”.

The symposium, a joint effort between the ministry and the Bermuda Health Council, follows the priority given by the World Health Organisation to chronic non-communicable diseases.

Asthma, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, hypertension and heart disease can be headed off in many cases by a healthier lifestyle, she said.

Healthcare quality, insurance access and premiums will also be discussed at the gathering of more than 100 health stakeholders, which will be held at no cost.

Asked if Bermudians were showing signs of a turnaround in health, Tawanna Wedderburn, acting CEO of the Bermuda Health Council, said there were some improvements evident, such as a reduction in smoking.

The council is also able to analyse the financial cost of specific chronic conditions on the healthcare system.

“Prevention is definitely the way we have to go, because the care is becoming very expensive for us,” Ms Atherden said.

Ms Wedderburn will make a presentation tomorrow, as well as the chief medical officer, Cheryl Peek-Ball; Calvin White, the acting director of the Health Insurance Department, and chief of staff of Bermuda Hospitals Board Michael Weitekamp. A panel discussion will follow.