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    Story Highlights

    • NCDs account for over 70 per cent of preventable premature deaths.
    • The high prevalence of NCDs have implications for the long-term progress of the country, as health in inextricably linked to development.
    • Jamaica is on an active search for solutions to the question of health financing.

    Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says that Jamaica is in the midst of a war on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which he says, account for over 70 per cent of preventable premature deaths.

    He noted that the high prevalence of these chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancers, have implications for the long-term progress of the country, as health in inextricably linked to development.

    “The debilitating effects of rampant NCDs or otherwise, an affliction of ill-health on our population, portends long-term effects with regards to the general level of productivity,” he argued.

    The Minister of Health was delivering the main address during Tuesday’s (November 12) opening ceremony of the 8th Caribbean Conference on Health Financing Initiatives at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay.

    He noted that the focus of the conference is very timely as Jamaica is on an active search for solutions to the question of health financing.

    This, he said, as the country fights NCDs and commits resources to international health commitments, such as reducing premature deaths by 25 per cent by the year 2025. “We do not take this task lightly…because this war on NCDs has a lot to do with the level of resources we allocate to the effort,” he stated.

    Dr. Ferguson said that the task at hand is to develop sustainable arrangements that allows for the delivery of quality health care to the population.

    “Such arrangements should not result in any onerous imposition on those we serve, no additional hardships. Neither should it have a deleterious effect on health-seeking behavior,” he said, while stating the Government’s commitment to universal access to primary health care.

    He informed that on a wider scale, regional governments had mandated a review of health financing options and pointed to a report, which indicated that as much as US$300 million is being spent annually on care acquired externally.

    “The favourable conversion rate of resource inputs versus outputs places Jamaica and some other countries in the region in a good position in terms of health care delivery.  This fact gives us a comparative advantage regarding health care delivery.  What if we could do more in retaining even a portion of this US$300 million in this region?” Dr. Ferguson questioned.

    Approximately 100 delegates are participating in the three-day conference, which concludes on Thursday, November 14.

    These include health ministers and other ministers of government, health consulting firms, national and social health financing officials, and members of local and international health insurance and health service management companies.

    The objective is to increase understanding and share information and expertise in designing and managing national health financing initiatives.