JIS News

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Jean Dixon, has said that Government will be focusing on the renewal of the country’s primary health care system this year, in order to relieve the strain on hospitals.
“We are expecting to use the primary health care facilities to triage (prioritize) patients and only send to the tertiary institution those that require care at that level,” Dr. Dixon said.
She was speaking at the opening ceremony for the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) Caribbean Sub-Regional Managers’ Meeting, on Tuesday (April 13) at the Jamaica Pegasus, New Kingston.
She noted that this move would require some public education, because Jamaicans believe that the best health care is offered in the hospitals and some work was needed to change that perception.
With the support of the National Health Fund (NHF), she said a programme is now in place for the improvement of the infrastructure of the more than 350 health centres.
The Permanent Secretary also revealed that, over the next year, more focus will be placed on improving the quality of service within the health sector, and a technical team has been assigned to look at strengthening the sector’s information systems.
“We have a lot of studies available to us, and this team is charged with the responsibility to develop a road map for us that will allow us, with the resources we have available and in a systematic way, put in place an information system that will enhance the data collection and/or analysis of trends in the environment, so that we can make timely responses,” she explained.
Dr. Dixon also noted that the Ministry was looking at strengthening its surveillance system and to continue the modernisation of the National Public Health Lab and the blood transfusion service, as well as see to the re-establishment of an epidemiology unit, as part of restructuring efforts.
To enhance the capacity of the health sector’s human resource, another area of focus for the Ministry in the 2010/11 period, will be to continue the training and deployment of supportive health workers.
“We are training assistive care workers, so that we can better deploy our human resource to put more technicians in the system. We have a project that is valued at about $100 million to train technicians for the laboratories, for our pharmacy services, as well as the renal services,” Dr. Dixon informed.
Another initiative being embarked on is the rotatation of newly registered nurses through the primary health care system.
“We have re-activated our examination of a proposal that will enable nurse practitioners to prescribe certain medications, as well,” she noted.
Increased attention will also be placed on expanding and maintaining a high level of immunization for the vulnerable, and controlling the outbreaks of malaria and other vector-borne and parasitic diseases.
She said that the Government will also continue its focus on HIV prevention programmes.
“We have to continue to monitor the response of diseases to drugs and pay careful attention to our health promotion and education programmes, looking this year at a policy that will allow some legislative provisions to eliminate smoking in public spaces,” she said.
Dr. Dixon also stated that the Government of Jamaica health card is currently under review.
“We are looking at broadening the infrastructure and making it more robust to allow the public health system to collect fees from private health insurers, so that when patients present themselves in the public health system for care, the GOJ health card that they will be issued with, will allow us to tap into other insurances and be able to collect from them,” she stated.
Turning to the abolition of user fees policy instituted in 2008, the Permanent Secretary said that measures are being put in place to ensure that the initiative is sustained.

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