JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Government has injected $35.4 million into critical medical research being conducted by the University of the West Indies (UWI) to address serious health conditions affecting Jamaicans.
  • The grants, which are being provided by the National Health Fund (NHF) under its Institutional Benefit programme, will be used to support work currently being carried out under five medical research projects at UWI.
  • Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, in his address at the handing over ceremony, said the establishment of a research agenda has been identified as one of the priority areas of the Ministry of Health for the 2015/16 fiscal year.

Government has injected $35.4 million into critical medical research being conducted by the University of the West Indies (UWI) to address serious health conditions affecting Jamaicans.

The grants, which are being provided by the National Health Fund (NHF) under its Institutional Benefit programme, will be used to support work currently being carried out under five medical research projects at UWI.

The symbolic cheques were handed over during a ceremony today (March 10), at the Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston.

Of the sum, $14.5 million will go to the Natural Products Institute to fund two studies on cancer treatment and prevention and anti-cancer screens, through the use of local natural products.

A total of $10 million will go towards research being undertaken by the Tropical Medicine Research Institute to decrease preventable childhood mortality due to Sickle Cell Disease in Jamaica.

The Department of Microbiology will receive the remaining $10.9 million to finance two research projects aimed at improving the productive health of Jamaicans through point-of-care diagnosis, drug resistance testing and molecular epidemiology, as well as anti-biotic resistance.

Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, in his address at the handing over ceremony, said the establishment of a research agenda has been identified as one of the priority areas of the Ministry of Health for the 2015/16 fiscal year.

He said the re-established Essential National Health Research Committee will guide the development of this agenda, which will be done through several partnerships.

“Health practices and policies must be grounded in the best scientific knowledge. Research in health will also guide the path that we wish to take towards better health outcomes for our people and sustainable development for our country,” he stated.

Dr. Ferguson informed that only about $1 billion of the $20 billion invested by the NHF over its 11 years of existence has gone to research, health prevention and promotion and “I have given clear instructions to the Board that in the second decade, we must increase that percentage.”

“It makes very little sense that billions are spent each year on the curative side of medicine, while much less is being spent to research and prevent serious illnesses,” he contended.

Chief Executive Officer of the NHF, Everton Anderson, said the agency will continue to provide significant support to medical research in Jamaica through the provision of grant funding.

For his part, Chairman, NHF, Sterling Soares, said the Board of Management approved the grants for the five UWI projects based on the impact the outcomes could have on the lives of patients.

He said it is a requirement that these outcomes are eventually shared with the NHF/Ministry of Health.