Ministry of Health Establishes International Cooperation Unit

Photo: JIS Photographer Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, addresses a function on Friday, May 31, at the Mearnsville Methodist Church in Westmoreland, to conclude a week of complimentary dental care provided by the United States-based Great Shape group.

The Ministry of Health has established an International Cooperation Unit that aims to assist with the smooth entry into the island of overseas health missions which offer to provide complimentary medical care locally.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, who made the announcement on Friday, May 31, said the unit’s establishment forms part of the Government’s efforts to ensure that visiting health missions do not encounter challenges such as delays in getting clearance at the island’s ports of entry to bring their equipment and other medical inputs into the country.

[RELATED: Westmoreland Community Welcomes Overseas Dental Mission]

Speaking at a ceremony last Friday, May 31, at the Mearnsville Methodist Church in Westmoreland, which concluded a week of complimentary dental care provided by United States-based international dental group, Great Shape Incorporated, Dr. Ferguson said the unit has been established to “improve the administrative arrangements” that will accommodate visiting missions.

“On average we have about 200 missions visiting Jamaica annually; last year we had 172 missions visiting Jamaica. We are getting more persons coming, and they are adding more value to the public health programme,” he said.

The Minister assured that with the unit’s establishment, “whatever is being taken in, we can facilitate their entry on a timely basis”, while advising that further details on the arrangements will be made shortly.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ferguson has noted the valuable contributions of international health missions, such as Great Shape Incorporate, in advancing the provisions of Jamaica’s health sector. He pointed out that in light of the country’s tight fiscal space, “it is this kind of partnership with international collaboration that will determine how we can get additional value.”

“When you add up the missions’ inputs and what you have to do, relatively, on the delivery side, if we harness the missions, harness the groups in a structured way, get the Diaspora involved, Jamaicans and professionals overseas, we will be able to add even more than what the Government is currently putting into health,” the Minister argued.

In welcoming Great Shape Incorporated’s gesture, Dr. Ferguson said the Ministry is seeking to expand the national dental programme, with special focus on children, initially, and eventually incorporating the wider population.

“This is a significant decision. When taken, it will lead to the decrease in the incidence of dental caries. Dental disease is the most common disease, and I have a responsibility…not only to see to it that more clinical work is done, but also to spearhead progressive policies that will advance the standard of oral health,” Dr. Ferguson stated.

Contact: Garfield L. Angus

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