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Story Highlights

  • The targeted development of health tourism in Jamaica and the transformation into a regional health hub are achievable.
  • The Ministries of Health, and Tourism and Entertainment, are collaborating to ensure the establishment of Jamaica’s first health tourism facility in Montego Bay.
  • PAHO/WHO representative in Jamaica, Margaret Skőld, underscored the need to build efficient and affordable health systems globally.

Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says the targeted development of health tourism in Jamaica and the transformation into a regional health hub are achievable, based on several indicators deemed “favourable” to Jamaica.

“We have some of the best health-trained personnel this side of the world (and) logistically, we are at the very centre of the Caribbean,” Dr. Ferguson said in a message read by Special Advisor, Hurley Taylor, at the opening of the Jamaica Association of Health Service Executives (JAHSE) biennial conference, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on October 25.

“The favourable health indicators that are associated with our success also tell us that we are ahead in being able to offer a level of service that is in line with First World requirements,” the Minister added.

In this regard, Dr. Ferguson said both the Ministries of Health, and Tourism and Entertainment, are collaborating to ensure the establishment of Jamaica’s first health tourism facility in Montego Bay.

“This will be a 75-bed facility which will be scaled up over three years with an investment of over US$200 million. Health tourism is not a far away dream; it is a present reality,” the Minister said.

Citing the conference theme: ‘Professionalization of Health Service Managers – 21st Century Perspectives’, Dr. Ferguson contended that the “professionalism of health service managers is a non-negotiable requirement,” as it is an “absolute necessity.”

He highlighted a few critical elements characterizing the modern health service, including a challenging fiscal environment; an increasingly demanding clientele; and the regulatory framework “with which we have to deal.”

The Minister pointed out that “critical and sensible decisions” relating to staff deployment or hiring are made difficult by the “dictates of old arrangements” clashing with “modern administrative methods and new demands.”

“I am pleased to report that some of these problems are being addressed by a cadre rationalization exercise presently in train. We are taking a comprehensive look at the structure of the health service,” he informed.

This approach, Dr. Ferguson explained, “will see us dealing decisively with those many instances where some posts, in terms of numbers, are inadequate, and where there is a mismatch between present and future requirements, and what we have on the books.”

Meanwhile, Pan-American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) representative in Jamaica, Margaret Skőld, underscored the need to build efficient and affordable health systems globally.

“Having the appropriate number and skills/competencies of health workers is central to this and the achievement of universal health coverage where people obtain the health services they need without the risks of financial hardship linked to paying for them,” she Said.

Ms. Skőld noted that “integrated and co-ordinated approaches” are necessary to provide adequate attention to every critical phase of pre and in-service education, regulation, recruitment, and deployment of health workers, “recognizing the roles of all players, including health service managers.”

“Health systems need to meet the challenges that health service managers face today, and will face tomorrow. Those they serve, the people of Jamaica, deserve nothing less. By stimulating a deeper understanding of the value of health service managers, let us build the talent pipeline for future generations,” she said.

In his remarks, JAHSE President, David Dobson, expressed the hope that the conference’s outcomes will help to pave a new dispensation for health service managers in Jamaica, thus allowing the country to “join the world in advancing this profession and improving the health service we offer.”

The conference was held to provide a forum for health services managers to discuss critical issues impacting the sector, and to formulate solutions.

The JAHSE is a non-profit, broad-based organization that provides a forum for networking among health care administrators and managers at all levels and from various business and professional backgrounds and experiences.