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Senior Research Fellow/Health Economist at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine campus, Roger McLean, has said that health and education are key sectors in responding to the current economic crisis, as well as the challenges of globalisation.
“These are the only sectors that are capable of enhancement and deepening of the human capital base,” Mr. McLean told the 18th Meeting of CARICOM’s Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) of Ministers of Health and Education at the Ritz Carlton Resort and Spa, Montego Bay, St. James on Wednesday (June 3).
He said that the global economic recession has caused a serious fall-off in financial flows to economies across the region, resulting in countries reeling under the crisis.
“In the face of a global recession, fiscal pressures are likely to see a fall off in financial flows to countries in forms such as: official development assistance (ODA); investment flows, which include foreign direct investments (FDI); trade credits; and flows of remittances,” Mr. McLean observed.
He pointed out that in terms of the ODA, a number of advanced countries which pledged to support developing nations in 2002 were, today, unable to meet those commitments.
In terms of the countries which receive aid, the real volume would have fallen, as the value of the dominant currencies fall, and FDI flows are also estimated to fall, reversing the pattern of significant growth over the past seven years, he said.
A fall in remittances has also been reported, as production cuts in the advanced countries have reduced employment opportunities for migrants. He explained that the effect on remittances to Latin American and Caribbean countries was reflected in a two per cent drop in the fourth quarter of 2008, as against the same period in 2007.
“The ultimate goals of mitigation measures against the present global economic recession ought to be the achievement of sustainable development, and central to the attainment of this goal is the improvement in the quality of human lives, in general, and particularly that of the less fortunate,” Mr. McLean said.
“It is, therefore, critical that the health and education sectors be central to any strategy that seeks to achieve this super goal,” he added.
Ministers of Health and Education from across the Region have been meeting over the past two days at the Ritz Carlton, discussing the impact of the current global financial crisis on the health and education sectors.
The talks have primarily focussed on strategies for implementing joint programmes which place a human face on the priorities of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).