- Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says the Government continues to make progress toward achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for all Jamaicans.
- To achieve UHC, means that all people and communities have equitable access to the comprehensive and guaranteed quality health services that they need throughout life, without financial hardship.
- The Health Minister pointed out that several steps have already been taken towards achieving UHC in Jamaica, among these is the upgrading of infrastructure.
Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says the Government continues to make progress toward achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for all Jamaicans.
“The quest to provide quality and affordable health care services and improve access is on in earnest and we will continue to develop the health sector so that our population can achieve the highest level of health possible,” he said.
Dr. Ferguson was speaking at the opening ceremony for a High Level Consultation on Universal Health Coverage at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday, July 15.
To achieve UHC, means that all people and communities have equitable access to the comprehensive and guaranteed quality health services that they need throughout life, without financial hardship.
The Health Minister pointed out that several steps have already been taken towards achieving UHC in Jamaica. Among these is the upgrading of infrastructure, with more than 100 health centres refurbished under the Primary Care Infrastructure Renewal Programme. In addition, since 2012, $1.5 billion has been spent for equipment acquisition and upgrading of hospitals.
Dr. Ferguson also cited the takeover of pharmacy services at public hospitals by the National Health Fund (NHF), which has enhanced efficiency and reduced waiting time by more than 75 per cent; and introduction of the Government of Jamaica (GoJ) health card, which will assist to improve service delivery, the collection of health insurance from private insurance providers, and the dispensing of pharmaceuticals.
The Minister further pointed to the completion of phase one of all four centres of excellence – Claremont in St. Ann, Isaac Barrant in St. Thomas, Darliston in Westmoreland and Santa Cruz in St. Elizabeth, which have all been officially opened “and Jamaicans are enjoying the upgraded and improved services.”
He also mentioned the pilot project to introduce the Electronic Patient Administration System as part of the implementation of the National Health Information System Strategic Plan, while the Government is acting on the recommendations from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-funded technical study on reform and financing of Jamaica’s health system, regarding the Primary Health Care Renewal Policy.
In her remarks, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Jamaica, Margareta Sköld, praised the Government for its commitment to “ensuring that people have access to health care of quality”.
“Our discussions, today, will contribute to strengthening this commitment by addressing crucial dimensions of universal health coverage including financial protection, what do people have to pay out of pocket, which services are covered, and the population covered, and is anyone not covered,” she said.
Ms. Sköld pointed out that WHO and PAHO have a long standing commitment to equity in health and social justice, which are core values of UHC. She informed that the Directing Council, at its meeting last September, adopted a six-year strategic plan (2014 to 2019) that mandated the Pan American Sanitary Bureau to take the UHC agenda forward.
PAHO has since developed a draft strategy for UHC and is now being reviewed through country consultations.
“The findings, considerations and ideas of the countries will be discussed and integrated into the final version by a working group, which includes Jamaica. The final version of the strategy will be presented to the Directing Council in September this year,” Ms. Sköld said.
The strategy defines the conditions that will allow countries to focus their policies and measure the success and speed of their progress towards UHC.
The Ministry of Health collaborated with PAHO to host the consultation. It is expected that the discussions will assist in the development of a road map for UHC for Jamaica.