JIS News

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  • The Government of Jamaica is to craft a 10-year development plan for the country’s health sector.
  • Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, said the process will get underway this year, through Cabinet’s approval of the Primary Health Care Renewal Policy.
  • The Health Minister was speaking on Wednesday, April 29, at the opening ceremony for a high level dialogue on Universal Access to Health and Universal Health Coverage at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.

The Government of Jamaica is to craft a 10-year development plan for the country’s health sector.

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, said the process will get underway this year, through Cabinet’s approval of the Primary Health Care Renewal Policy.

“This will result in a quantum shift in the way we offer health care to Jamaicans,” he said.

The Health Minister was speaking on Wednesday, April 29, at the opening ceremony for a high level dialogue on Universal Access to Health and Universal Health Coverage at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.

The 10-year development plan is part of continued efforts by the Government to ensure universal access and universal health coverage for Jamaicans.

Dr. Ferguson said that a number of “far-reaching measures” have already been put in place, including decentralisation of the health management structure to facilitate decision-making at the local level; increasing access to pharmaceuticals through the creation and consistent updating of the Vital, Essential and Necessary (VEN) List of Drugs; and doubling of the 2015/16 health budget to $8 billion.

“We have embarked on a programme of Primary Health Care Infrastructure renewal to provide quality health services and increase access at the community level,” Dr. Ferguson said, noting that four primary health care centres of excellence have been created, which will eventually be used as models to create similar facilities across the island.

“These provide greater services than what we would traditionally be able to access at the health centre level and they operate as mini-hospitals,” he said, noting that significant improvements have also been made to the secondary care infrastructure.

Dr. Ferguson cited the establishment of the National Health Fund (NHF), which provides financial protection to citizens living with chronic diseases, as a critical measure in strengthening health coverage. “The NHF has expended approximately $3.5 billion on individual benefits for the last fiscal year,” he informed.

He said implementation of the no user fees policy is also an important step in removing a barrier to health access, and the Government continues to seek practical and sustainable ways of financing health care, to further reduce out-of-pocket expense for citizens.

“So, it is clear that we have been working and we have achieved a lot, but there is much work to do, especially because out-of-pocket payments is at 30 per cent of total health expenditure, and this is unacceptable,” he said.

The high level dialogue ends on April 30.