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Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, has pledged to continue to vigorously pursue extra budgetary support for the health services.
He gave the assurance on November 18 at the start of a one-week budget preparation retreat at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, which is being attended by key stakeholders in the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.
“I will continue to advocate for additional technical, human and financial resources at the bi-lateral level with countries and in the donor community to address some of the challenges that plagued the health system for several years,” he stated.
He noted that the repair and general maintenance of equipment, training of more health workers, and the assignment of more workers at the primary health care level were important priorities for the Ministry.
The one-week retreat seeks to ensure that all entities within the Ministry are provided with guidance in the preparation of budgets for the financial year 2011/2012, as well as to ensure that the operational plans of the health regions and entities are aligned with those of the Ministry.
Mr. Spencer advised those in attendance that at the end of the retreat “we must leave here with everyone on the same page in terms of the priorities for 2011-2012 and the guidelines by which everyone will abide”.
He cautioned against continuing to incur costs outside of what has been approved by Parliament. “This is not acceptable. It is not sustainable,” he stated.
The Health Minister expressed concern about the industrial relations climate within which workers operate and said he has given instructions for the industrial relations capacity within the Ministry to be enhanced.
The retreat is expected to accomplish the following: an alignment of the corporate and operation plans of its entities with that of the Ministry of Health; greater knowledge and familiarity with the budget guidelines; improved compliance with the MOF&PS budget guidelines and a prepared budget that reflects the Ministry’s priorities for the 2011/2012 financial year.
The sessions involve officials from the Ministry’s head office, the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, the regional health authorities, National Council on Drug Abuse, National Family Planning Board, Child Development Agency, Office of the Children’s Registry, National Public Health Laboratory, Pesticides Control Authority, National Health Fund, Government Chemist, Registrar General’s Department and the University Hospital of the West Indies.
A number of working sessions will also be held from November 25 to December 1, during which each entity will be given one-and-one assistance to craft their budget.