JIS News

Health Minister John Junor has hailed the institution of the National Advisory Committee on Health, noting that the work of the organisation would prove instrumental in advancing health care in Jamaica. “I have been canvassing this idea of a consultative advisory committee on health for many years. I think it gives us an opportunity in the Ministry to have important outside inputs,” Mr. Junor said at the inaugural meeting of the committee, which was held on Tuesday (Nov. 30) at the Hilton Kingston Hotel.Over 30 health officials and representatives from various stakeholder organisations attended the meeting.
The Committee, which will meet three times a year, is comprised of 20 members selected from consumer organisations, provider organisations such as private hospitals, laboratories, the insurance industry, multi-party representation, the other stakeholders in the area of health, and members appointed by the Ministry.
Although the establishment of the committee is aligned to a broader government initiative being implemented in several sectors of government, the Minister stated that there was need for the sort of interaction the committee would bring, in terms of widening the net of the consultative process.
“The committee is even more important for us in the Ministry as the profile of the challenges have changed and it continues to do so,” he explained.
The Ministry, he said was very conscious that stakeholders deserved a system that was effective, and delivered the quality services to which Jamaican citizens were entitled.
This process, Minister Junor stressed, could only be enhanced and achieved with the involvement of the committee in the consultative process, which commenced with the inaugural meeting.
In outlining the role of the committee, he informed that the group “will be our sounding board, thermometer and so to speak our stethoscope, to help the Ministry keep its fingers on the pulse of the health sector.”
The committee will not only review existing policies, but will be expected to recommend new ones, where a need was identified. “It will not only help us to monitor implementation of various plans and programmes, but help us to provide a mechanism to address the competing demands on our resources, to ensure the balanced development of the sector,” Minister Junor asserted. Issues to be discussed at upcoming meetings include the programme of health promotion to encourage healthy lifestyles; greater emphasis on enhancing primary health care while, ensuring the integrity of community facilities to reduce the demands on primary facilities and resources; the spread of HIV/AIDS; and the issue of mental health.
However, given the concerns expressed at Tuesday’s meeting, the Minister stated that topics would be subject to revision to accommodate the most pressing concerns.

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