JIS News

The Ministry of Health today (June 30) signed its second service level agreement with the four regional health authorities that operate across the island. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Grace Allen-Young signed the agreement with Chairmen representing the separate regions, at the Ministry’s King Street offices.
Speaking of the significance of the signing, she told journalists that it represented a commitment to the principles of good governance, adding that it was also “a contract and agreement on the way we will do business over the next three years as a Ministry”.
She further explained that the agreement would cover clearly defined areas such as quality improvements, financial targets, operational policies and guidelines, human resource management and development, desired health outcomes, and the priorities of the Government and the Health Ministry. The service level agreement, according to Mrs. Allen-Young, articulates the specific roles required of both the ministry and the regional health authorities.
The four regional health authorities are the South East region, the North East region, the Western region, and the Southern region. The South East Region which comprises Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, and St. Thomas, while the North East region comprises St. Ann, St. Mary, and Portland, and the Western region includes St. James, Trelawny, Hanover, and Westmoreland. The Southern region is made up of the parishes of Manchester, Clarendon and St. Elizabeth.
The passage of the National Health Services Act of 1997 that established the Health Authorities provided a separation of operational responsibilities from the Ministry of Heath. The Act defined the Ministry’s role as focusing on policy development, setting standards and monitoring the delivery of health care services, while the authorities were delegated the responsibility for the actual delivery of health care services.
“What the service level agreement does is set the parameters within which those services will be delivered to ensure consistency across regions and across facilities,” the Permanent Secretary said. Unlike the prior service level agreement that was signed in 1999, the newly signed agreement is to be guided by a Development Committee, with representation from the Ministry and the four regions.
The Committee will monitor the implementation process, and its role includes recommending changes, reviewing and refining indicators and targets as well as the performance of the Ministry and the regional health authorities.
In her response on behalf of the regions, Director of the Western Regional Health Authority, Sheila Campbell-Forrester said in as much as previous agreements had been ambitious, the regional authorities “tried our best to achieve the goals and to ensure a reasonable state of health for our people during the period (of the initial agreement)”.
She said the authorities remained committed to the improvement of the health of the Jamaican population and the promotion of wellness. “We share the vision of ‘better health for all’ and will endeavour to encourage our staff to buy into this vision, have a greater understanding of their roles in delivering quality care to our valued stakeholders,” Miss Campbell-Forrester noted.