JIS News

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  • The Ministry of Health is embarking on a programme to allow persons living with HIV/AIDS, as well as Jamaicans with other illnesses, to access their medication in a timely manner.
  • Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Kevin Harvey, said this involves the redesigning of the pharmacies in the public health system.
  • He also noted that as part of the enhancement of the system, the National Health Fund (NHF) is taking over pharmacies in the public health sector.

The Ministry of Health is embarking on a programme to allow persons living with HIV/AIDS, as well as Jamaicans with other illnesses, to access their medication in a timely manner.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Kevin Harvey, said this involves the redesigning of the pharmacies in the public health system, as well as the pending implementation of new software to track drugs and ensure that the supply chain is properly maintained.

He also noted that as part of the enhancement of the system, the National Health Fund (NHF) is taking over pharmacies in the public health sector. He pointed out that this strategy is already bearing fruit, as the daily number of persons filling prescriptions has moved up by some 60 per cent.

Dr. Harvey was speaking on September 15, at the opening ceremony for the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) Treatment Mission 2.0, at PAHO’s University of the West Indies, Mona campus-based office.

Highlighting other government-led initiatives to tackle HIV/AIDS, the Permanent Secretary said the Ministry has also embarked on a sustainability approach to the management of the disease, with Cabinet approving the integration of the National Family Planning Board (NFPB), and elements of the HIV response programme last year.

“Since then, we have had some significant developments…the teams have implemented joint programming; we have developed a draft national strategy for the integrated approach (and) we have had several consultations, that will be finalised by the end of this month,” he informed.

Dr. Harvey further noted that the Government has moved to amend the legislation which governs the NFPB to make the Board more aligned with the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) principles.

“The Act has been modified to state that a person living with HIV, a person from the vulnerable population, should be on the Board (and that) a person from the Ministry of Education should be a permanent member of the board,” he noted. The private sector will now be represented on the Board, thereby making it more broad-based, in keeping with international standards.

The NFPB has authority to provide sex education to all groups, and to coordinate the work of civil society and the government on matters related to family planning and sex education.

Dr. Harvey pointed out that the project coordinating unit in the Ministry is also undergoing changes, with the National HIV/STI Programme now falling under the purview of the office of the Permanent Secretary.

The objective of the PAHO Treatment Mission 2.0 is to identify, analyze and discuss with national and local authorities, civil society, the scientific community and other key players at the national level, gaps and opportunities in HIV care in Jamaica.

The week-long activities, which also include health facility site visits, will also include recommendations to expand and make HIV care more sustainable.