Nearly a year and a half after implementation was first promised by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, government today launched the National Health Card at Gaston Court, Chaguanas.
At a UNC meeting at Pepper Sauce Junction, Chaguanas in October 2013, Persad-Bissessar promised implementation of the card by mid-January 2014. Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan told the media at the time that the first phase of the card programme would begin rolling out “in three months.” It aimed to target 60,000 people who access the Chronic Disease Assistance Programme (CDAP).
The programme aimed to eliminate a number of inefficiencies in the Health Care System that both Health Minister Fuad Khan and Communications Minister Vasant Bharath outlined, which in turn attempts to streamline the process of distribution of patient medication and patient records access and storage, among many other issues.
Khan would later go on to say the system would help to reduce or limit the number of foreign nationals coming to the country to access free medical health care.
The proposed card was not without controversy, however, as People’s National Movement (PNM) Senator Faris Al-Rawi, in a contribution in a private motion in May 2015, questioned the safety of citizen’s information should the programme be implemented.
"What are the protection mechanisms behind that? What’s the state of proclamation for the Data Protection Act? Why does it lie un-proclaimed as to the most essential protection measures required from a public entity perspective? What’s the state of proclamation of the Electronic Transactions Act? Why does that lie in a state of lack of proclamation as it relates to consumer protection provisions?" Al-Rawi asked.
Speaking at the launch today, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said
“In the first phase of introducing the Card we will register all Chronic Disease Assistance Programme (CDAP) patients. Once registered these patients will be able to go to any of the two hundred and seventy five registered CDAP pharmacies and simply swipe their card and have their medication dispensed,” adding
“This new system will allow for the more efficient dispensation of medication to our citizens whilst maintaining a real-time record of stock allowing for a more efficient management of medications within our public health sector. Very soon this process with be expanded to include several other sectors of society and thus revolutionise the way medication is prescribed and dispensed to our citizens.”