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Grenada signs US$1.5million contract with US healthcare company

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by Linda Straker

  • US$800,000 and US$1.5 million to complete process for implementation of National Health Insurance (NHI) programme
  • Contract with Joint Independent Provider Association (JIPA) came into effect 29 October 2019
  • Introducing a National Health Insurance plan is in keeping with Sustainable Development Goals 2030

Health Minister Nickolas Steele said that government is paying a USA-based firm between US$800,000 and US$1.5 million to complete the process for implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) programme.

The contract with the Miami-based Joint Independent Provider Association (JIPA) came into effect as of 29 October 2019 and builds on the work already started by The University of the West Indies and other stakeholders.

Grenada received US$653,916 from the United Nations Development me (UNDP) to establish the secretariat of the NHI and to undertake initial preparatory work. The decision of government to introduce a National Health Insurance plan is in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

JIPA Network as the private healthcare company is called, is headed by Grenadian-born and USA-trained neurologist, Dr Kester Need. He promises that the NHI plan will overhaul the system and sustainably address issues of cost and delivery of healthcare in Grenada.

Grenada’s Minister for Health believes that the contract with JIPA — which did not go through a procurement process according to data on the government’s procurement website — is a necessary step to overcoming many of the challenges that the healthcare system faces.

“If Grenadians can agree to JIPA’s team-based model, NHI will become a reality in the not too distant future, and as such, the challenges faced by a colonial system of care will finally be addressed, for present and future generations,” he said according to a news release from the Government Information Service (GIS).

The objectives of the NHI are:

  • To improve access to and affordability of healthcare services for all Grenadians;
  • To improve the healthcare system which would lead to a healthier and more productive Grenada;
  • To protect individuals and families from financial hardships that can result from healthcare expenses and
  • To provide for a more equitable and sustainable method of financing healthcare.

JIPA’s original proposal to government was of a five-year duration for implementation, adopting three different phases with phase one and two covering a 12-month period. However, Steele explained that the contract will be for a six to nine-month duration with different components. “All of this will be made known and better explained at the launch on 18 November,” Steele said.

Some of the expected outcomes of the contracts are:

  • Implement the NHI administrative structures
  • Development of Provider Contracts and contracting with providers
  • Training provided in key Human Resource areas essential for NHI.

The company will also

  • Develop policies, processes, regulations and institutional aspects
  • Support the enactment of NHI and related legislation and regulations
  • Introduce and facilitate the development of creative healthcare financing models
  • Work to implement the approved mechanisms for financing.

The JIPA Network will also develop value-based managed healthcare programmes for providers and consumers of healthcare and to work in a collaborative manner with payer stakeholders to promote a centrally governed administrative system that is efficient.

“Noting that better healthcare continues to be a national priority of the New National Party administration, the minister expressed government’s willingness and readiness to lend all the necessary support to JIPA in order to make NHI, which he referred to as the “great equaliser,” a reality, and deliver improved health services for all Grenadians, especially the many who cannot always afford to go abroad to have their healthcare needs met,” said the news release.

Over the next nine months, JIPA has pledged to continue extensive consultations, and work with all sectors and stakeholders in Grenada to develop and finalise the necessary benefits plans, funding models and administrative processes for the implementation of the NHI.

Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell has hailed this historic agreement with JIPA as a “game-changer for the healthcare system, given the many challenges faced by that system, throughout our history.” According to the Prime Minister, “healthcare is a right, and every Grenadian citizen needs to know that their right can be satisfied right here at home.”

The government release said that the signing of the contract with JIPA makes Grenada one of only a few developing nations around the world, and in the Caribbean, to introduce a sustainable brand of National Health Insurance to its citizens.

JIPA will “utilise a tested and proven model, which consolidates funding and organises healthcare providers and consumers into large groups, in which risks such as payment and care are shared across those groups. By doing so, better healthcare will be made much more affordable and accessible across all sectors of the Grenadian society.”

JIPA Network signed a similar contract with the BVI NHI in 2015 and in 2019 filed a lawsuit for breach of contract. Under the contract, the BVI NHI was to be provided with access to JIPA’s already established network of healthcare providers throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the United States.

The BVI NHI was to pay JIPA each time they utilised healthcare providers within the JIPA Network. According to court documents, JIPA is alleging that the BVI NHI has bypassed it and has used the companies within its network without paying JIPA the agreed fee.

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Caribbean & World

RBC announces sale of Eastern Caribbean banking operations

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Royal Bank of Canada (RY on TSX and NYSE) today announced it has entered into definitive agreements to sell all banking operations in the Eastern Caribbean to a consortium of indigenous banks within the region.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions and is expected to be finalised in the coming months.

“Consistent with our strategy of being a competitive leader in the markets where we operate, RBC is always evaluating opportunities for our business. Earlier this year, we were approached by a consortium of indigenous banks with their proposal to acquire all RBC Eastern Caribbean operations,” said Rob Johnston, Head, RBC Caribbean Banking. “After a review of our operations and strategy, we determined this opportunity was a good decision for the long-term future success of RBC Caribbean, and also, that it aligned with our vision to help our clients thrive and communities prosper,” he said.

The sale encompasses the branches of Royal Bank of Canada in Antigua, Dominica, Montserrat, St Lucia, and St Kitts and Nevis, as well as regional businesses operating under RBC Royal Bank Holdings (EC) Limited in Nevis, Grenada, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Collectively, these operations are referred to as “RBC Eastern Caribbean”. The consortium of five financial entities purchasing includes 1st National Bank of St Lucia, Antigua Commercial Bank Ltd, National Bank of Dominica Ltd, the Bank of Montserrat, and Bank of Nevis Ltd.

Johnathan Johannes, Managing Director, 1st National Bank of St Lucia, shared, “We formed the consortium for the express purpose of expanding the scale of the locally-owned financial entities in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union. This transaction gives us the size and scale to play a more active role in the development of our respective countries. We see this transaction as the first step in achieving even greater synergies, efficiencies and cross-territory marketing opportunities.”

“RBC has operated in the Caribbean for more 100 years – longer than we have been in many parts of Canada. We remain committed to the future of the Caribbean and to a vision of digital innovation that transcends traditional services,” said Johnson. “This transaction will allow us to realign and focus our strategy on Caribbean markets where we can achieve that vision most successfully.”

“Self-determination is the highest level of empowerment – and the indigenous banks acquiring this business will now have an increased opportunity to influence the development of their communities,” said Johnston.

Johannes added, “And speaking on behalf of the local banks, we embrace and eagerly anticipate that opportunity.”

The consortium was advised by PwC (JA), led by Wilfred Baghaloo, who added, “this transaction demonstrates that Caribbean countries and businesses have the capacity and capability to come together when the circumstances are right.”

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. RBC will release its first-quarter 2020 results and host an earnings conference call on 21 February 2020.

RBC

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Diversion of traffic to facilitate road closure Moliniere

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The general public is advised that the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Public Utilities, Energy, Transport and Implementation in collaboration with the Traffic Department of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) has made alternative traffic arrangement for the Western Main Road Corridor, Moliniere area.

The diversion of traffic will be as follows:

  • Effective Friday, 13 December from 7 am, heavy trucks will not be allowed to use the Western Main Road. All heavy trucks and trailers are advised to use the Eastern Main Road and other alternative routes. The RGPF will issue an advisory in that regard.
  • Effective Monday, 16 December 2019 from 7 am, all other vehicles are advised to use the alternative routes as specified below.
    • Mt Moritz Concrete Road – to facilitate the traffic coming from St John, St Mark and St Patrick towards St George.
    • Jones Road to facilitate the traffic coming from St George towards the Western side.

This arrangement is made to facilitate geotechnical and engineering studies and design work on the road section between Mt Moritz junction and Moliniere. This intervention is urgently required to address the land slippage in that area.

The general public is advised that the diversion of traffic will be in effect until further notice as the ministry endeavours to enhance road safety in the area. The studies will commence in the coming weeks. The kind cooperation of homeowners in the area and the motoring public is anticipated.

The ministry apologises for any inconvenience.

For further information, please contact Najar Andall, Chief Technical Officer (Ag) and or Merina Jessamy, Permanent Secretary at 440-2271.

Ministry of Infrastructure Development

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TAMCC College Council $1.75 million increment payment offer

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11 December 2019: The industrial actions at the T A Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) is in now in its sixth week and coincide with the end of semester examinations and the advisement on course selection for the next semester registration, that will prepare students to meet the academic requirements for their programme.

The council anticipated this critical juncture in the lives of students, made an offer on 6 December 2019, which was rejected by both the Public Workers Union (PWU) and the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT), as such, the industrial action continued.

In recognising the negative effects the continuation of the industrial actions is having on students, the council, with limited resources, made a new offer today (11 December 2019) of $1.75 million, with the hope that the unions will study and accept it, so that negotiations can continue towards a speedy settlement.

The council is committed to the payment of the increments in question and all members of the council (long-standing and new) are fully aware of the devastating effects it will have on national development if not properly managed.

The TA Marryshow Community College was established on 1 July 1988 to provide accessible quality tertiary education and training opportunities in the tri-island state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Its primary purpose is to help individuals achieve their personal and professional goals, and to effectively respond to the changing needs of the national, regional and global communities.

Augustine Vesprey, Interim Chairman, TAMCC

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