JIS News

With more elderly Jamaicans suffering from the degenerative brain disease Alzheimer’s, the Ministry of Health is looking to add drugs for the treatment of the condition to the Jamaica Drug for the Elderly Programme (JADEP).
“We are exploring the addition of certain drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s because of the increasing number of elderly persons, who are presenting with this condition,” said portfolio Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, at a community outreach and health fair on Wednesday (December 8) at the Vere Technical High School grounds in Hayes, Clarendon.
Alzheimer’s is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older people.
Introduced in 1996, JADEP provides assistance for persons 60 years and over to purchase prescription drugs for selected chronic conditions. More than 17,000 persons enrolled in JADEP during the last financial year, with 13,312 new beneficiaries added between January and November this year, bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 222,605.
Minister Spencer said that while the country has made important gains in healthcare, chronic non-communicable diseases remain prevalent, especially among the elderly population.
Data from the 2009 Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions indicates that 15 per cent of persons in the 60 to 64 age group, who reported a chronic illness suffered from diabetes and 37 per cent from hypertension. In addition, 14 per cent had diabetes while 32.5 per cent had hypertension in the 65 and over age cohort.
“This situation requires close monitoring from the Ministry, as our elderly population has declining income,” he noted.
In the meantime, Minister Spencer said that the Government is “pressing ahead” with its primary health care renewal programme to ensure that persons, especially the elderly, are able to access health facilities near to where they live.
“Our elderly must be able to access quality health care closer to their communities. As I indicated in the Parliament two months ago, we are continuing with the rehabilitation of our health centres,” he stated.
The community outreach was held as part of Vere’s 50th anniversary celebrations.