JIS News

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson has indicated that the Government will be pursuing Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) for the development of the health sector.

Dr. Ferguson, who was speaking at Tuesday’s (January 29) press launch of Heart Month 2013 at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston, said the arrangement is ideal, as it will facilitate private investments and allow the Government optimal use of its fiscal space.

“We have had to get creative in our response to finance our growing health care needs. We realise that Government cannot continue to provide all the start-up financing required to update and modernise our health infrastructure and delivery systems,” he stated.

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He noted that in the past, the Ministry has had some partnership arrangements outside of a prescribed policy guideline, but said that a national policy framework for public private partnerships, developed by the Development Bank of Jamaica, was recently passed in Parliament.

“Within this policy framework, the Ministry will enter into further PPP arrangements, taking account of the requirement specifics of health and healthcare,” he stated.

According to Dr. Ferguson, having a structured PPP policy guideline provides for streamlining of PPP arrangements, improved transparency and broadening of access. The policy will also allow the Government to cut costs, reduce risks, and increase coverage levels, output quality, and efficiency.

He said that while almost all areas of the public health system can benefit from PPPs, the Government would seek to promote some areas based on strategic and policy direction.

These areas include: technologically intense services such as cancer treatment and dialysis; infrastructure development; health information management systems; pharmacy services; diagnostic services; health promotion interventions; non-clinical support services; training and research.

Turning to other matters, the Minister told the gathering that the Government has been fine-tuning a gift policy designed to rationalise and streamline donations to the public health sector.

Additionally, he informed, the Ministry is in the process of finalising the national strategic plan on non-communicable disease in the first quarter of the new fiscal year; establish a disease registry beginning with a cancer, hypertension and diabetes registry, and giving additional support to the renal registry.

Heart Month 2013 is being observed under the theme: ‘Risks for Heart Disease: Does Sex Matter?’

The Heart Foundation of Jamaica has organised a month of awareness and educational activities up to February 28, which includes an outside broadcast on Friday, February 1 at the Foundation’s Beechwood Avenue headquarters in Kingston; and a thanksgiving church service on February 3, at the Providence Methodist Church.

There will also be a screening at the Duhaney Park Health Centre in Kingston on February 4; a media appreciation day at the Foundation; and plaza promotions and broadcasts on Friday, February 8, at the Sovereign Centre, Liguanea Lane Plaza, Boulevard Shopping Centre, Michi Shopping Centre; Tropical Plaza, Portmore Mall, and Spanish Town Shopping Centre.

There will also be screenings in rural towns such as Brown’s Town and St. Ann’s Bay, St. Ann; Montego Bay, St. James; Lionel Town and Kellits in Clarendon; Porus in Manchester; Bellefield in St. Elizabeth and Lyssons in St. Thomas.
Some 83,000 Jamaicans used the services of the Heart Foundation in 2011.

The launch also saw presentations by Consultant Cardiologist, Dr. Marilyn Lawrence Wright on ‘Gender and cardiovascular disease’; and on the ‘role of the Heart Foundation in preventing cardiovascular disease’, by Executive Director of the Foundation and Vice President of the World Heart Federation, Deborah Chen.