JIS News

Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, has underscored the importance of safeguarding the nation’s health to enhance productivity.

Speaking at a contract signing ceremony for the development of the Santa Cruz Health Centre in St. Elizabeth, held on Tuesday (January 15) at the Percy Junor Hospital in Spaldings, Clarendon, Dr. Ferguson said the connection between a healthy nation and how it impacts the productive process, is, often, not apparent among many persons.

“We are losing billions of dollars, annually, because of poor health. The (prevalence of) Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) is costing the country, US$170 million, annually, for the treatment of strokes, diabetes, cancer, etcetera,” the Minister pointed out while lamenting that approximately 56 per cent of deaths in Jamaica are attributed to NCDs.

“So, more and more (one) comes to realize that our work going forward, for health workers, for the communities, and the clients, our patients, who have to be subjected to our treatment,… is not easy for any of us,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Fenton Ferguson has assured that the Ministry is committed to developing the best cancer care services that can be provided at public health institutions.

“We must get the state-of-the-art equipment for early diagnosis and treatment so that we will be able to offer the best quality care for cancer patients (at an affordable cost). This is a commitment that I am giving and it is a commitment that I am working towards,” the Minister asserted.

Development of the Santa Cruz Health Centre into a Centre of Excellence is being undertaken in two segments. The initial phase, to be undertaken by engineering firms, Bajad Limited, and CP Specialists Limited at a cost of $25 million, will entail, among other things, the provision of furnishing and equipment as well as reconstruction of the roof. This segment is slated for completion by April.

The second phase, which is also slated to commence shortly, is expected to focus on improving diagnostics services; the child and maternal section; and dental service provisions. It is expected to be completed within the 2013/14 fiscal year.

Other facilities earmarked for development as Centres of Excellence are: the Isaac Barrant Health Centre, St. Thomas; Claremont Health Centre, St. Ann; and Darliston Health Centre, Westmoreland.

The National Health Fund (NHF) is financing the initiative, which forms part of the administration’s primary health care renewal programme.