Press Release

Committee to Learn from Cuban Experience

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Thursday, 20 September 2012

Reference: HSSPS 02/12/13

The Assembly’s Health Committee has agreed that the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson will conduct a study visit to Cuba as part of the Committee’s review on health inequalities.

The Committee’s review will seek to identify effective interventions to address health inequalities in other regions which could be applied in Northern Ireland. This work will directly contribute to the development of the Department of Health’s 10-Year Public Health Strategy which is currently out for consultation.

The study visit will involve attendance at a conference on public health which will bring together experts from across the world, including those whose work is focused on understanding the causes and possible solutions to health inequalities.

The Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson will also visit a range of health facilities in Cuba, such as multi-service clinics known as polyclinics which offer a range of services to local communities. There will also be an opportunity to talk at first hand to health professionals working in Cuba, as well as those involved in healthcare policy planning.

The Chairperson of the Committee, Sue Ramsey MLA said: “Tackling health inequalities is a key priority for the Committee. It is recognised that a focus on prevention and early intervention is essential if we are to get to grips with improving the health of people across our communities.

“Cuba is well known across the world for its success in terms of improving public health, particularly through an emphasis on primary care and close working between health professionals and their patients, so that early signs of ill-health are quickly identified and treated.

“Lessons can be learned from Cuba which can be applied to how we take forward our new Public Health Strategy. The visit will allow us to see health projects at first hand, talk to health professionals on the ground and also meet experts in this field who will be attending the conference.”

Deputy Chairperson of the Committee, Jim Wells added: “We are facing wide-ranging changes to our health system following the review of healthcare and the publication of Transforming Your Care. One of the key recommendations coming out of that report is a shift towards more services being provided through primary care settings. Cuba’s health system is very much focused on community based clinics staffed by multi-disciplinary teams – we will able to see at first-hand how this works and whether it could be applied in Northern Ireland.

“Cuba is also known for being able to deliver excellent health outcomes, despite spending considerably less than most European countries, including Northern Ireland. We need to ensure that the monies we have available to spend on health are used effectively and provide for the best outcomes for people. We need to learn from systems which have been proven to produce good outcomes that are equitable and cost effective.”

ENDS


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