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T&T to borrow US$110m

Published: 
Monday, December 22, 2014

The Washington-based Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved a US$110 million loan for T&T to prevent and control risk factors of chronic diseases among adults, and primary and secondary school students, a release from the IDB said. The programme will strengthen the delivery of integrated primary care services; implement behaviour change programmes and policies; improve health information management practices; and ensure adequate human resources for health.

The project will contribute to reducing by ten per cent, the mortality rate caused by common chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, hypertension, cerebrovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory illness, which currently account for 60 per cent of all deaths in T&T. Overall, chronic diseases account for 78 per cent of all deaths in the country, the release said.

The programme will also reduce by five per cent, the prevalence of obesity among primary school children, the IDB said. A study conducted in 2009-2010 found that 23 per cent of primary school children and 25 per cent of secondary school children in T&T were overweight or obese. This finding represents an approximate 300 per cent increase over the number of children who were found to be overweight or obese in 2001.

A school-based child and adolescent obesity prevention programme, Healthy Schools TT, will use a combination of physical activity and nutrition initiatives, together with family support, to enable children to eat healthier foods and to be more active. Upon a successful completion of a pilot programme, the Healthy Schools TT initiative will be implemented nationwide, reaching approximately 260,000 children and adolescents in pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools.

The programme will also finance “green” durable outdoor gyms, health education materials, and research teams.

This health initiative for T&T is also poised to design and implement a nationwide Electronic Health Information Management System (e-HIMS) to generate real-time, quality data for decision-making on clinical matters, patient management and continuity of care, and resource allocation. A standardised electronic health record will be the foundation module of the e-HIMS, which will connect the Regional Health Authority and the Ministry of Health into a single network.

The IDB said T&T is also suffering from a shortage of primary care physicians and nurses. A recent assessment showed a 55 per cent vacancy rate among physicians and a 34 per cent vacancy rate among nurses. To address this need, the IDB project will implement a recruitment and retention strategy to ensure adequate human resources for health.

The US$110 million IDB loan is payable in 25 years, with a 5.5-year grace period, an interest rate based on LIBOR. The executing agency is the Ministry of Health of Trinidad and Tobago.

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