JIS News

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sheila Campbell-Forrester, says Jamaica’s ability to achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, has been significantly boosted by the Government’s decision to abolish user fees in public hospitals and renew the primary health care system.
Speaking at the launch of Jamaica’s national report on the MDGs at the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), New Kingston, Dr. Campbell-Forrester said that in pursuing these initiatives, Jamaica has shown that it is ready to assume its place as a leader in primary health care.
The CMO, who represented portfolio Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, noted that the abolition of user fees ensures that persons, particularly from the lower strata of society, are able to access quality and affordable health care and medication.
She said the administration will be embarking on several initiatives to augment the undertaking this year.
“The Government will be focussed on: improving health care delivery, such as infrastructural improvement to a number of hospitals and health centres; the purchase of equipment, such as diagnostic equipment; and the purchase of drugs to improve our capacity to meet the increasing demand for pharmaceutical services,” Dr. Campbell-Forrester said.
She pointed out that this year’s budgetary allocation for the purchase of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies has been increased by 6.4 percent. The National Health Fund (NHF) was approached to provide an additional $300 million to procure supplies, which have been expanded by over 100 items.
Primary health care renewal is being pursued to provide support for the abolition of user fees policy, she noted.
She stated that, globally, a renewed approach to primary health care is regarded as essential in addressing the fundamental causes of health ailments, as articulated by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, and to codify health as a human right.
“This year, we are encouraging the use of health centres. Approximately 60 percent of persons who use hospitals should access care at the health centre. We are encouraged by the level of utilisation at this level of care, which has increased by over nine percent,” she observed.
“We are starting with over $300 million, which we have already gotten from the National Health Fund, to improve facilities (and) we have earmarked 156 health centres across the island for rehabilitation this year. At the end of this process, we hope that persons will be better able to comfortably access the services available at our primary health care facilities, to relieve some of the burden now being placed on the public hospitals,” Dr. Campbell-Forrester explained.
The report, which was jointly undertaken by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, discusses key relevant issues within national and regional contexts.
It is expected to be presented by Health Minister, Rudyard Spencer, during the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) meeting in Geneva, Switzerland in July. The meeting will focus on the theme: “Implementing the Internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global public health.”
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight goals to be achieved by 2015 that respond to the world’s main development challenges. They are drawn from the actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by 189 nations and signed by 147 heads of state and governments during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000.
The eight MDGs include the need to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health, as well as combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

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