TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands – The Virgin Islands will host the 36th OECS/Pooled Procurement Service (PPS) policy board meeting and Ninth OECS council of health ministers, and other health personnel from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) from October 9 – 12, 2023.
Minister for health and social development Vincent O. Wheatley is the incoming chairman for the council of ministers for health for the upcoming year.
Minister Wheatley said his capacity as chairman allows him the opportunity to shape the OECS health agenda for the years 2023-2024.
The minister said the meeting will focus on collectively bringing the voices of OECS Member States together to make known to the rest of the world the region’s ambition and challenges, especially with mental health.
Minister Wheatley highlighted that the Virgin Islands has faced several setbacks stemming from COVID-19 and hurricanes Irma and Maria and this meeting will provide the opportunity to highlight the resilience of the Territory’s health sector.
The health minister added: “Building hospitals and labs is great for health advancement but our main goal is to keep people healthy and keep them out of tertiary health care. We saw a need to focus more on preventative medicine so, that will be the focus of the OECS in the year 2023-2024. We can share ideas and best practices and look at what has worked in the region and what has not worked and tackle things collectively.”
As it relates to the 36th OECS/PPS policy board meeting, Wheatley said this will benefit the Virgin Islands as it relates to the cost of pharmaceuticals.
Minister Wheatley said:
“The PPS is a procurement system, and it benefits us because we are part of the wider regional group. By coming together, it increases buying power to get pharmaceuticals at a reduced or more reasonable rate than if we were trying to buy on our own. This has serious implications for the Virgin Islands in terms of the cost of medicines, especially prescription medicine.”
The ministry of health and social development remains committed to fostering partnerships and relationships that positively impact the health and social well-being of the people of the Virgin Islands.