Country faces health challenges and “dire economic situation”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Addressing the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly today, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis renewed calls for assistance as The Bahamas faces two “seismic events” that threaten public health and the country’s economy.
The prime minister also repeated his call for the international body to revise its assessment of country’s based on their gross domestic product alone, which he said affects The Bahamas and similar countries’ contributions to international organizations and their ability to receive grants and assistance during disasters.
Minnis said: “In this In this vein, as we request assistance to address COVID-19 in The Bahamas and in other small island states, we urge the international community to adopt and to appreciate a broader understanding of the developmental levels and the unique local circumstances in our states.”
Noting that at least 50 percent of the country’s gross domestic product is derived from tourism, which employs 60 percent of the population, the prime minister said The Bahamas is face with a “dire economic situation” to overcome.
He pointed out the country’s second and third most populated islands remain in recovery mode after Hurricane Dorian decimated portions of those islands — Abaco and Grand Bahama — last September.
“Now COVID-19 has closed our borders and destroyed our tourism-dependent economy,” he told the World Health Assembly today.
“Economic recovery is halted even as we prepare for the impending hurricane season in our region, which begins June 1 and extends to November 30.
“The twin, unprecedented events of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to destabilize our health response and our public health gains.”
He continued: “These two seismic events threaten to widen inequities and increase the burden of non-communicable diseases.”
As of yesterday, there were 96 confirmed cases of virus in The Bahamas.
There have been 11 COVID-19-related deaths.
Expanded testing at the community level has been limited in part due to available resources and shortages in the global supply chain.
There has not been a new case in four days, evidence that the curve has begun to flatten.
Today, the prime minister said The Bahamas, which has benefited greatly from the application of WHO tools, particularly when testing capacity was limited, supports the draft resolution addressing timely access to “quality, safe, affordable and efficacious diagnostics, therapeutics, medicines and vaccines”.
He pointed out the country’s archipelagic makeup means the government has to replicate basic health and social services in many far-flung rural areas, extending from southern Florida to the tip of northern Cuba.
He thanked partners who have donated much-needed personal protective equipment and medical devices; training materials and technical support.
Following Dorian’s destructive path in The Bahamas last year, the prime minister told the United National General Assembly that for many years, The Bahamas and countries with similar makeups have urged for an alternative to per capita gross national income as the sole indicator of a country’s level of development and eligibility for concessionary financing.
At the time, Minnis said he was concerned and disappointed the measure of wealth and viability causes The Bahamas to be assessed for favorably than it should be for contributions to international organizations and for the receipt of grants, as well as international assistance when disaster strikes.
He made similar remarks today.