Health Ministry Seeks to Expand Human Resource Base


The Ministry of Health will be seeking to have its professionals remain at the cutting edge of global health care by placing emphasis on training and exposure to health systems in the global community during the 2005/2006 fiscal year.
Health Minister, John Junor informed the House of Representatives during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate on May 11, that not only was the Ministry concerned with expanding its human resource base but also ensuring that quantity and quality worked in tandem in the Ministry’s efforts to have its professionals remain at the cutting edge of their field. “Our concern is not only with numbers, as we must ensure both quantity and quality,” he noted. Mr. Junor explained that in its efforts to achieve this objective the National Health Fund (NHF) will be injecting capital of J$365 million to revive the training of health professionals and significant emphasis will be placed on critical areas of need such as the training of nurses, midwives, and pharmacists. He further informed “over J$10 million has been spent pursuing a policy shift by transferring all basic nursing training/education programmes to the Ministry of Education”. Other groups that have been targeted for training include, pharmacy technicians, environmental health officers and Information Technology (IT) personnel.
Additionally, the Health Minister informed “the Ministry continues to support the Doctor of Medicine Programme, which is a post graduate degree offered by the University of the West Indies (UWI), with clinical support from hospitals in the South East Region”.
He explained that there were now 36 persons in the programme, which cost the Ministry J$1.6 million per year. A total of 25 persons have graduated from the programme over the past three years.
Minister Junor also revealed that the Ministry had reintroduced its professional Nutritionists and Dieticians in the form of the internship programme, which had not been in place for a number of years.
Meanwhile, Minister Junor informed that the Ministry would be refocusing on its efforts to decentralize and distribute some of its responsibilities to Regional Health Authorities (RHAs). He explained that the National Health Services Act, which was passed in 1997 to give legal status to the RHAs, was the first phase to the process of decentralizing the Ministry of Health, although the process had since slowed.
“Essentially the RHAs were set up to manage the delivery of primary, secondary and tertiary health care in the four regions of the South East, Southern, North East and Western, as semi-autonomous units of the Ministry of Health, with their own Boards and management teams,” Minister Junor explained.
The RHAs operate on Service Level Agreements with the Ministry, which aim to standardize the service across the board. Mr. Junor noted that even with the constraints the divisions had been achieving commendable service levels.

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