KINGSTON — The Ministry of Health is encouraging more medical practitioners to serve in deep rural communities, providing attractive incentives for those who decide to relocate.
"If they will come I will provide the incentive for them to come," said Portfolio Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer on August 10, at the re-opening of the refurbished Retreat Health Centre in St. Mary.
"So when I met with them I told them I will be providing for them a special allowance, I will assist them with their student loan payment, in securing car, and in securing special mortgage rates at concessionary rates," he informed.
“I just want you to know that there is an incentive and the doctors and nurses are responding to it,” he stated.
The move to attract more medical personnel to rural communities is in keeping with efforts by the Government to improve health care delivery to Jamaicans in those areas.
A $300 million Primary Health Care renewal programme, funded by the National Health Fund (NHF), is also being embarked on, under which more than 40 health centres across the island have already been rehabilitated.
The Retreat Health Centre, which was upgraded at a cost of some $2.2 million, was the second facility in the parish to be re-opened yesterday under the initiative, with the other being the Gayle Health Centre, which was rehabilitated at more than $3 million.
Minister Spencer said he is delighted that residents of St. Mary are seeing an improvement in the delivery of health care at the community level. He informed that of the 40 rural healthcare facilities rehabilitated so far by the Government, eight of them are in the north east region.
“People in the hinterlands of Jamaica must have access to healthcare and this is why we are on this forward march of re-opening those that have been run down and building new ones,” he stated.
In his remarks, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, and Member of Parliament for St. Mary West, Hon. Robert Montague encouraged the residents to maintain the facility.
“I would like to suggest that for each health facility that we have, we declare a board or a committee of friends and involve the parish councillor as an integral member of that committee to marshal the resources from the community to assist with the upkeep and maintenance. We cannot always expect the government to come in and repair a lock or to buy a washer for a pipe,” Mr. Montague said.
For his part, Vice President, Finance and Corporate Affairs, NHF, Aubrey Blair, noted that the refurbishing work will ensure that the facility will continue to provide a high standard of care to residents of beneficiary communities.
Rehabilitative works on the health centre included the removal and replacement of existing roof sheathing; painting of interior and exterior walls; electrical upgrade; erection of chain link perimeter fencing; installation of air conditioning unit in the pharmacy; installation of a disabled ramp; renovation of sanitary facilities; as well as putting in appliances and other equipment.
By LATONYA LINTON, JIS Reporter