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Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says his Ministry will be partnering with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to develop clear strategies to address the increase in violence-related injuries, which he said, are having a major impact on the local health sector.

Dr. Fenton, who is also chairman of CARPHA, was addressing members of the board along with United States State Representatives, at a special meeting held in Washington DC recently, where he revealed that violence-related injuries are costing the health sector billions of dollars per year. He said that solutions are needed to deal with this problem.

“When people think of violence-related injuries in the society…very rarely do they think of the impact that these types of injuries have on the health sector in general, but particularly, the hospital system,” he stated.

“I would argue that this increase in violence-related injuries is having a significant national impact, particularly in eight hospitals, said Dr. Fenton, citing a survey which showed that it was costing the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) alone, some two billion dollars annually, to treat such injuries.

The Health Minister pointed out further that one in three planned surgeries have had to be postponed to address medical emergencies, which arise from violent injuries.

He said that both the Government and his Ministry are concerned, as, in addition to the increase in these injuries, the hospitals have had to cover the cost of treating many of these patients, who are unable to cover their medical bills. The cost of surgery and the length of stay in hospital are expensive and so all of these factors together, are having a significant impact, he noted.

He informed the meeting that the Government has been making progress in reducing crime and violence, and that there has also been collaboration among the Health and National Security Ministries, and the National Health Fund in areas of public education and awareness.

The Minister said he will continue to work with PAHO and CARPHA in bringing focus to the impact of violence-related injuries on the health sector and to find solutions.