Jamaica Faces New Challenge in Health Care


Minister of Health, John Junor said today (March 10), that Jamaica was facing the challenge of transforming and managing health care in an era when the disease burden has shifted to chronic non-communicable conditions.
This, he said “begs for innovative ways of maintaining our gains in health care as well as tackling the new challenges of equipping our people with the coping skills to develop and maintain healthy lifetime practices”.
The Minister was addressing the opening of a two-day conference hosted by the Jamaica Association of Health Services Executive (JAHSE), at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston. The theme for the conference is: ‘Transforming and Managing Health Care in the 21st Century’.
Mr. Junor noted that scientists had created new ways of combating some conditions through the use of technology, but the solution must be promoted on a widescale to effect meaningful global changes. He pointed out that the world was yet to find an equitable way of dealing with the advances of health technologies to benefit those most in need.
“If we look at the pharmaceutical industry, if we look at the issue of HIV/AIDS.we have been able to reduce considerably the first line drugs in terms of cost, but there is an inevitable change in that regime, as persons who develop resistance to those drugs will have to go on new drugs that are found and those can be frightfully expensive and the cycle repeats itself,” he said.
The Minister said that in developing countries, such as Jamaica, “we are certainly behind in efforts to transform and manage healthcare in today’s technologically advanced world and we must seek to understand and acquire technology in order to put it to work for us”. Mr. Junor stressed that Jamaica would have to accept the universality and truism of the old adage ‘prevention is better than cure’, and reorient the entire health system. “We have to deal additionally with this question of the shift in population. The fact that we have technology on our side means that there is additional hope,” he said.
The Minister emphasized that the health care system must develop the potential of the two major interventions in health – prevention and science – as well as a third element, that of the role of human capital, in the delivery of health care.
He pointed out that the Ministry of Health, through funding provided by the National Health Fund (NHF), continued to invest in training for various professional groups. “The emphasis placed on training by the Ministry is evidence of our commitment to combating these health challenges that we face and we have more to come,” he added.
With training being essential to effecting meaningful health changes, Minister Junor said JAHSE’s effort to invest in potential leaders was very admirable, and that for some time now the association has been funding education of selected health management students at the University of Technology (UTech).
This is in addition to the islandwide publication of the association’s journal, ‘The Health Executive’, which continued to influence the preparedness of professionals and consequently growth in the health care system.
Minister Junor said JAHSE continued to do a “marvellous job” of preparing health professionals for on-going educational career development, research and networking forums.

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