During this financial year, the Health Ministry will initiate the establishment of four Centres of Excellence at the primary care level, one in each of the four Regional Health Authorities.
Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says planning is far advanced, and that some $100 million is to be provided for the project by the National Health Fund (NHF).
The Minister made the announcement during his contribution to the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, on July 11.
Dr. Ferguson informed that the criteria for the selection of the health centres to be upgraded to Centres of Excellence were well thought-out.
"First, they must be in a location that is accessible and is likely to remain accessible and open for business, even in the event of a natural disaster. Second, they must be at least a type Three Centre, which already has a fairly good infrastructure. The reason for this readily suggests itself, as it is not the intention to spend all of the available resources on infrastructural improvements,” the Minister explained.
He added that the centres must themselves have the physical space or be expandable to accept further infrastructural and other improvements; and they must have an appreciable patient demand, based on epidemiological and demographic profiles.
The four facilities selected to be Centres of Excellence are: Santa Cruz Health Centre in St Elizabeth; Darliston Health Centre, Westmoreland; Claremont Health Centre, St. Ann and Isaac Barrant Health Centre, St. Thomas.
"We will expand the waiting areas and make them more customer friendly. We will focus on offering health promotion and education programmes. We will upgrade the diagnostic services to support screening and treatment of patients, and dental services will be offered. Efficient and effective pharmacy services will also be available," Dr. Ferguson said.
The number of health professionals working in these Centres of Excellence will be increased and a web-based electronic Health Information System will be introduced, which will establish the platform for tele-medicine services. The opening hours of the centres will also be extended.
"The monitoring and evaluation results will inform further reconfiguration of the primary health care system, and will provide guidance for the upgrade of other health centres,” the Minister said.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter