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    Minister of Health and Environment, Rudyard Spencer, has said that the vision of the Government is the creation of a health care and delivery system, which addresses the health problems of the Jamaican people in a comprehensive and sustainable way.
    Making his presentation in the 2008/09 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 3, Mr. Spencer said that this health care system will provide the conditions for private investment within the health sector to develop and deliver health tourism services, and to contribute to the financing of the sector.
    “This vision starts with a paradigm shift that re-locates the responsibility for health to the individual and the community. It sets the framework and establishes the parameters within which policymakers, bureaucrats and technocrats will formulate health policies and plan, implement and evaluate these policies,” he explained.
    The Minister informed that this vision must be viewed within the broader context of a new social paradigm that embraces the fundamental principle that health is an inalienable right of the people of Jamaica.
    “The rationale is quite simple; a healthier population equals a more productive work force. A more productive workforce leads to more sustained economic growth, more employment and a stronger revenue base for Government. More importantly, a healthy population is the best guarantee for safe, secure and prosperous families, communities and nations,” he stated. Minister Spencer pointed out that the Abuja Declaration, which was drafted in April 2001 in Nigeria by the Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), stipulates that national governments need to invest 15 per cent of their national budgets to finance the health sector in their countries.
    “Jamaica has seen a consistent and dramatic decline in health financing since the 1960s, reaching 4.5 per cent in the 2007/08 financial year, (however), we have started to reverse that decline with a 34 per cent increase over the 2007/08 figures. This represents the single largest increase to the health sector since the 2004/05 budget year,” he said.
    He informed that over the last eight months, the Government has moved with consistency and determination to lay the foundation to achieve the vision of creating a comprehensive and sustainable health care system.
    The achievements are: improving access of the poor to health services through the abolition of user fees; revision of the Regional Health Authorities; revision of the renal dialysis programme; negotiating the purchase of the St. Joseph Hospital to enhance health care delivery in the South East Regional Health Authority; establishing a team to create the road map for the rehabilitation of primary health care and the modernization of secondary health care; examining the requirements with regards to developing health tourism; pursuing the development of the Electronic-Health (E-Health) infrastructure; and beginning work on establishing a strong framework for public/private partnerships.

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