Dr. Duane Sands, Minister of Health, held an open meeting on September 13, 2018, at the Anglican Hall to inform the public about the Breadbasket Food List. This list includes the basic foods that government excludes from VAT charges. Dr. Sands is working to include only healthy foods on the list, eliminating those that do not promote good health.
The Minister explained that the nutrition of Bahamians is worse than in the past. This has resulted in many health issues including overweight and sugar diabetes. There has been a 300 percent increase in non-communicative health problems in the country. He is hoping to change the eating habits so Bahamians eat healthier foods. He encourages people to eat healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Dr. Sands encourages Bahamians to eat locally grown produce and native fruits. He is recommending taking off the Breadbasket list canned soups, cream, canned meats, margarine, non-healthy type oils and some fats including margarine. He would like to delete canned corned beef but has not made a final decision on that. He will include on the list healthy foods such as some fresh fruits, root vegetables, oatmeal, healthy type breads, healthy type oils.
He informed the group that the government is planning to continue repairs on hospitals and clinics. The government has 94 clinics throughout the country. These clinics provide medical services to many people but 87 percent do not pay for these services. This results in the high cost of maintaining these clinics. So, the Ministry does not have the funding for maintenance. There is a shortage of pharmacists, physiotherapists and other technicians and specialists. Some communities do not have doctors and Dr. Sands is working to get doctors for them.
He felt that we need to invest in food security as 94 percent of our food is imported. That is why BAMSI was formed on Andros to support farming throughout the country. He is encouraging farming and also suggested homeowners to plant fruit trees.
The Bahamas now depends on tourism and banking for its basic economy. But Dr. Sands feels we should diversify and get into new areas to bring about economic growth. He suggested we need more efficient energy; we need to use our natural resources to stimulate our economy.