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Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (right), is in light discussion with Deputy Chairman of the National Health Fund (NHF), Dr. Dana Morris Dixon (left); and President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Howard Mitchell, at the NHF's 15th anniversary awards banquet held recently, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston.
Photo: Rudranath Fraser

Story Highlights

  • The National Health Fund (NHF) is making healthcare affordable for Jamaicans, through the provision of drug subsidies valued in excess of $30 billion to benefit more than 800,000 persons over its 15 years of operation.
  • This in addition to more than $17 billion in grants to fund health projects, including rehabilitation and upgrading of health facilities.
  • “This is an organisation that has taken seriously its role in seeking to have no financial barriers to healthcare for the Jamaican people,” says Deputy Chairman of the NHF, Dr. Dana Morris Dixon.

The National Health Fund (NHF) is making healthcare affordable for Jamaicans, through the provision of drug subsidies valued in excess of $30 billion to benefit more than 800,000 persons over its 15 years of operation.

This in addition to more than $17 billion in grants to fund health projects, including rehabilitation and upgrading of health facilities.

“This is an organisation that has taken seriously its role in seeking to have no financial barriers to healthcare for the Jamaican people,” says Deputy Chairman of the NHF, Dr. Dana Morris Dixon.

She notes that the entity is one of the best managed across the public and private sectors, and the staff is committed to its mandate of delivering high-quality service to customers.

Through the NHF Card Programme, the agency, under the Ministry of Health, provides financial support for the treatment of chronic diseases.

Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (right), engages with Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Fund (NHF), Everton Anderson (left), and President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Howard Mitchell, at the NHF’s 15th anniversary awards banquet, held recently at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston.

 

Covered under the programme are asthma, arthritis, breast cancer, prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia, diabetes, epilepsy, glaucoma, high cholesterol, hypertension, Ischaemic heart disease, major depression, psychosis, rheumatic fever/heart disease, sickle cell disease, and vascular disease. Lupus was recently added to the list of illnesses covered.

With its same-day service, the entity has improved efficiency in the cards registration system, where walk-in clients are able to have applications processed and cards issued in 15 minutes at any of the 14 card centre locations islandwide.

The Fund, which now has responsibility for managing public-sector pharmacies, filled 2.5 million prescriptions for patients in the public health sector last year. Initiatives have been implemented to reduce waiting time at pharmacies from four hours to less than one hour.

The agency, established in 2003, is constantly updating its operations to better serve the public.

It recently instituted the Quick Prescript mobile service, enabling patients to submit prescriptions electronically prior to their arrival at a pharmacy. The service currently has over 10,000 downloads.

Quick Prescript kiosks have been placed at several pharmacies across the island for non-smartphone users to access the service.

A Pharmacy and Inventory Management System (PIMS) has also been installed at more than 30 Drug Serv facilities, for greater management and control of pharmaceuticals, from the point of purchase to the point of dispensing.

Patients can also utilise the NHF’s Drop-Off and Pick-Up, or Scheduled Refill services, to avoid waiting in line for their medication.

Under the In-Patient Services/Mobile Dispensing Unit programme, instituted recently, patients in hospitals can have medication delivered to their bedside. The innovation serves to improve efficiency in the dispensing of drugs, and assists nurses in ward management.

As part of its mandate, the NHF provides grant funding for projects aimed at improving infrastructure and service delivery in the health system.

These include new construction; repair and rehabilitation works; procurement of state-of-the-art medical equipment, furniture and fixtures; and research in public health.

A major area of focus is health promotion, as well as the prevention and management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Through its Mobile Screening Unit, the NHF reaches thousands of citizens at health fairs across the island each year.

Approximately 380 health fairs are conducted annually, in which some 100,000 screening tests are done.

The agency provides support to health initiatives in schools and workplaces. In addition, it has created programmes in alignment with Ministry of Health policy, to educate and empower the citizenry in NCD prevention and management.

The work of the NHF is recognised, with the entity winning several awards over the years, including the RJR Gleaner 2018 Honour Award for Health and Wellness; and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) 2018 Public Bodies’ Corporate Governance Award.

Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says the entity “represents a proud feature of public health”.

He is urging the team to “continue this thrust, going forward, with the charge that excellence is a moving target, and we have a lot more to do”.