If you’ve suffered from migraines intermittently throughout the year, trying different over-the-counter medications, you may decide to see your doctor to find out what’s going on. The doctor will not only treat what aches you, perhaps with stronger prescription drugs, but they will also want to try to find out the cause of the headaches. This is an example of getting to the bottom of a problem to prevent it from happening again.
By digging deeper and deeper, the central problem can be determined, which would help to understand a plan of action to effect changes and achieve a positive outcome. In the doctor’s analogy above, the headaches could have been caused by a number of things, such as stress and depression, too much alcohol, or poor posture. If the cause is not identified and treated, the headaches will likely continue.
As we all know, Bermuda has deep-rooted social issues, such as gangs, gun violence, and general crime, that persist and appear to have no end. It doesn’t seem like we’re making any progress in figuring out what makes them tick. We also have cultural issues, such as speed and alcohol abuse that all too often result in injuries and deaths on our roads.
Even before the pandemic, which we have faced for a year and a half, the well-being of our community seemed to be in decline. We need to find a way to measure and monitor this on a regular basis.
The first important step in problem solving is to define the problem itself and find out what exactly is going on. Before thinking about possible solutions to formulate the best way forward, it is essential to establish the main causes of the problem. A seizure may warrant immediate action to provide short-term respite, but to prevent or reduce long-term recurrences, the heart of the problem must be identified.
The department that could help uncover the root causes of our ongoing problems is the Statistics Department. It can play the role of facilitator and data collector to help different stakeholders fully analyze and understand the issues they face and help measure results. If this is not the role of the DoS, it should have a broader mandate within the civil service.
I have already stressed in previous opinions the need to find out the “how” and the “why” on two key issues which are having a negative impact on Bermuda.
There are differences of opinion on why our young people join gangs, especially black men. How do we tackle the problem and prevent others from joining in the future if we don’t agree on the underlying reasons for membership and active participation? Once and for all, we must come to a consensus on what is going on. More details on this are described in my opinion “Stop the violence: act or be acted”.
2, vehicle accidents
The Minister of Transport previously said: “The number of road deaths and injuries in Bermuda is a national health crisis. Unfortunately, we have averaged one death per month so far this year. What are the main causes? Is the culprit speed, too much alcohol, or perhaps careless driving? What are the economic and productivity losses due to all accidents? As I said in “A Cure for Our Speed Culture,” Bermuda needs to reduce the number of crashes and fatalities on our roads to avoid injuries and save lives.
All of the information required for the above analysis should be within the reach of the DoS as the custodian of the data, and reporting to the civil service sector. The information and trends gleaned from the data should give a broader appreciation and scope of the challenges, and help stakeholders make more informed decisions on some of the key issues they face.
By embracing data analytics, personal opinions and gut feelings would be avoided. It is also the most efficient way to get buy-in, as showing the information would help improve transparency.
Further understanding is also required for the following questions:
• Cost of health care
The Bermuda government has embarked on an ambitious task of introducing a single unified insurance scheme with the aim of making healthcare more affordable. A single payer system has advantages. Mainly, it would give more weight than using multiple vendors, which should lead to lower prices.
While there are challenges with this type of insurance model, many countries around the world have similar types of health care plans. The Commonwealth Foundation, a US healthcare advocacy group, has found that countries with universal health coverage have the best performing health systems.
To ensure that Bermuda’s proposed health plan will not have the same underlying cost issues as existing health plans today, it would be prudent for the government to conduct and share an analysis on our current health costs. That is, what factors within healthcare made them expensive in the first place?
From 2006 to 2020 inclusive, the Statistics Department reported that “health and personal care”, which is a component of the consumer price index, had increased by an average of 5.7% per year, while the CPI itself rose 2.1 percent over the same 15-year period. I just have a question – why? Bermuda’s health plan can face the same financial hurdles if we don’t dig into the data, like the DoS.
One of my favorite nursery rhymes and songs that I sang in church Sunday school was “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands”. I remember clapping my hands and stamping my foot as hard as I could.
Happiness is important for the well-being of a country. For clarity, happiness in this context is not just having fun momentarily or doing something you enjoy; happiness is more lasting and sustained.
Lasting happiness has been proven to lead to better health and longevity, better performance at work, more supportive social relationships (less likely divorces), more giving back to society, and better mental health and resilience, which helps to cope better with the challenges of life. A happy community leads to a productive society and benefits everyone.
Bermuda should rate their happiness as they are seen as a useful way to guide public policies and measure their effectiveness. The same model could be adopted as that used in the World Happiness Index, which includes 156 countries around the world that ask their citizens how they rank according to six variables:
• GDP per capita (purchasing power)
• Healthy life expectancy
• Generosity (donations to charities)
• Social support (having someone to rely on in difficult times)
• Freedom to make decisions in life
The results could be assessed island-wide and segmented, for example, by age, gender, ethnicity and country of origin. It would be great if we could measure ourselves against other countries to assess where we rank and where we need to improve. More importantly, the data could be analyzed to compare different segments of our community. Specific policies and initiatives could be created to fill these gaps.
Malcolm Raynor has worked in the telecommunications industry in Bermuda for over 30 years. Benefiting from Cable & Wireless internal training and education programs in Bermuda, Barbados, Saint Lucia (University of the West Indies) and the UK, he has reached the level of Senior Vice President. Independent thinker with a moderate ideology, his opinions are influenced by principles, data and trends
According to the WHI report, Finland ranks first among the happiest countries among those surveyed. Finland enjoys high social benefits, low levels of corruption and a sense of freedom and independence. Its progressive taxation and distribution of wealth have enabled the country to have a leading universal health system.
Finland and other European countries such as Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands consistently score high on the WHI. One of the advantages they have is not having to deal with a racial history, the inequality and the lack of confidence that it has engendered. In fact, some of these countries have even benefited from it.
Having said that, Bermuda must find a way to deal with the consequences of their legacy, as this is the only issue that is preventing us as a country from reaching our potential. But this is another story for another day.
It is time for Bermuda to adopt preventative policies and practices to improve the quality of life for all of its residents. Responding to problems helps to resolve the problem in the short term. However, just like the doctor who would like to find out the cause of his patient’s headaches, we must find the root causes of the problems plaguing our community.
Using the analogy of another doctor, it is advisable to have an annual checkup for continued health benefits. Regular preventive care is one of the best ways to check if everything is okay and to spot health problems before they get worse. These visits could also monitor your progress towards your health goals. Likewise, Bermuda is to do its annual review through a happiness survey. The report would show our well-being and whether new policies, initiatives or actions are needed to address concerns before they become a crisis, like the ones we have now.
• Malcolm Raynor has worked in the telecommunications industry in Bermuda for over 30 years. Benefiting from Cable & Wireless internal training and education programs in Bermuda, Barbados, Saint Lucia (University of the West Indies) and the UK, he has reached the level of Senior Vice President. Independent thinker with a moderate ideology, his opinions are influenced by principles, data and trends