Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, has emphasized the need for the effective and efficient use of resources in the health sector, especially in light of the country’s economic challenges.
The Minister said that with the pending agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which calls for belt tightening, no sector will be exempt from this scenario.
He noted, however, that even where there is no room to increase the health budget, there is always room for improvement in how the resources are used.
“More now than ever, we need to band together in the health sector and creatively execute our mandate. We need to optimize and manage all our available resources efficiently and effectively. We need to put processes in place that will move us closer towards our development goals and enable us to secure the gains we have made in health,” Dr. Ferguson said.
The Minister was addressing the Advancement in Medicine and Healthcare 2013 Conference, at the Faculty of Medical Sciences Teaching and Research Complex, on the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, on April 25. The conference is being held under the theme: ‘Challenges to Healthcare and Innovative Technological Solutions’, and will end on April 27.
He explained that resource optimisation calls for a public/private partnership in undertaking certain projects and financing aspects of health services.
Dr. Ferguson thanked the Diaspora and charitable groups for their contribution to the health sector, which has saved the government billions in spending over the years.
“Each year we receive about 200 medical missions. The services offered vary from general care, such as diabetes and hypertension checks, to more specialised care such as spinal and cardiac surgeries,” he informed.
He noted that last year there were 172 medical missions to Jamaica saving the government approximately US$393,000, with their contribution of pharmaceutical supplies and equipment to the public health sector.
“This does not take into account the specialist time or labour and the many other administrative persons who have come to support these missions. This translates to about J$40 million,” he said.
The Minister also noted that charitable organisation, Food For The Poor,brought in over $3 billion worth of equipment and other medical supplies to support the Jamaican health sector.
“We regard the co-operation as being so important that we have set up a special section in the ministry with an energetic and responsive team that is ready to give guidance and proper facilitation. In doing so, you will be assured that your efforts will generate maximum benefits on all sides and the health sector will be that much better for it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Cheryl Holder of the Jamaican Diaspora Health Sector, Southern USA, and Nursing Professor at Seneca College, Hyacinth Jackson, who is part of the Canadian Diaspora group, symbolically presented a sphygmomanometer (blood pressure) machine to Dr. Ferguson.
Dr. Holder explained that her group has been on a drive to acquire and deliver 1,000 blood pressure machines to the health sector. She noted that in the past year about 100 such machines were brought in and 40 more will be distributed to health care facilities in Portland and St. Mary.
The evening also saw the Barry Wint Memorial Lecture, in memory of the former Chief Medical Officer of Health. Dr. Wint was the chief architect of the Advancement in Medicine Conference, which is having its fourth staging this year.
Dr. Sanjeev Arora, a physician at the University of New Mexico Hospital and one of the few hepatitis specialists, delivered the lecture.
By Andrea Braham, JIS Reporter