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    Government is committed to consolidating all the various tax deductions coming from both the employees and the employers with a portion dedicated to supporting the delivery of proper health services. This should come into effect by April of next year, Prime Minister Bruce Golding has disclosed.
    The Prime Minister was addressing the annual awards banquet of the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, over the weekend.
    Mr. Golding said government was also trying to source cheaper drugs because even though the doctors are coping with the increase in patient load in public hospitals following the removal of hospital fees, part of the problem is that the hospitals do not have the drugs to respond to the prescriptions being issued. He noted that during his recent visit to Cuba, he was amazed to find out that Cuba manufactures some 80-percent of its own pharmaceutical requirements. He said Jamaica and Cuba will be working on a programme together.
    Mr. Golding disclosed that a team, led by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Ken Baugh would be leaving the island over the weekend for Cuba. Mr. Golding said a Heads of Agreement will be prepared under which Jamaica will be able to source cheaper drugs from Cuba, subject to their meeting our own certification and specifications.
    Mr. Golding said the government also wants to strengthen its partnerships with the private hospitals as he noted that they too are financially challenged.
    ‘We are prepared to say to the private hospitals let’s find a creative way to work off these liabilities by teaming up with the public sector health system to see to what extent you can help us discharge our obligations and we will help you to discharge your obligations to the state’. Mr. Golding said.
    Mr. Golding also disclosed that government would be embarking on a vigorous public education campaign to promote the business of healthier lifestyles. He said there are some foods being imported into the island that cannot be continued, as people were poisoning themselves and ending up in the casualty department of hospitals which are already under pressure.
    Mr. Golding called on the MAJ to work closely with the government as it wrestles with the problems facing the health sector. He said he is confident that the association could bring to bear its vast experience and knowledge in assisting the government.
    The MAJ honoured three of its members for outstanding services to the profession during its awards banquet. The three were Dr Carmen Bowen-Wright, international health consultant, family physician and preventative medicine specialist; Dr Marion Kissoon Mangatal, consultant physician in internal medicine at the KPH and Dr Horatio Dunn, a past Chairman of the MAJ with 35 years of service to the profession. The President’s Award went to Dr. the Hon Albert Lockhart.

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