The Ministry of Health has saved some $386 million in the procurement of pharmaceutical and medical supplies since the start of the financial year, Health Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, has disclosed.
Mr. Spencer said the savings were accrued through the implementation of cost efficient policies across the pharmacy service in the public health sector, including the use of less expensive drug sources.
He was speaking at Thursday’s November 18 opening of a one-week budget preparation retreat for key stakeholders in the Ministry, as well as the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.
The Minister said that the exploration of cheaper sources of medical supplies, was among a number of recommendations to ensure the long term success of the abolition of user fees programme.
Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer addressing the Ministry’s Budget Preparation Retreat on Thursday November 18 at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston. Also pictured are (from left) – Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shelia Campbell-Forrester, Board Chairman at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Professor Peter Fletcher and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Jean Dixon.
He also noted that the recommendations included the consolidation of the management of the procurement and distribution of pharmaceutical preparations and medical supplies, which was recently accomplished with the integration of the National Health Fund (NHF) and the Health Corporation Limited (HCL).
He said that the Ministry has concluded 44 of the 180 health centre renovations which were recommended.
“A phase two renovation project, for the outstanding health centres, will be presented to the NHF for funding support for the new financial year,” he stated.
He also said that the National Health Information Team is continuing its work on the development of a comprehensive National Health Information System, and that he expected “some kind of a road map by the end of this financial year” and some indication in the budget for year one of implementation.
Mr. Spencer called on health care workers and other stakeholders to support the no user fee policy. He also stated that there will be a rigorous evaluation of the performance of the programme in the first quarter of the new financial year.
“It may well be that we have to change some strategies. However, there needs to be recognition and an appreciation that the duly elected government of the day, after careful consideration, has decided on a no user fees regime. Let us put our collective intellect, experience, expertise and competencies to support the policy,” he implored.
The budget retreat is among a series of sessions organised by the Ministry to assist entities to meet the guidelines that have been established by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, in preparation for the 2011/2012 budget.
The retreat is expected to accomplish: an alignment of the corporate and operation plans of its entities with that of the Ministry of Health; greater knowledge and familiarity with the budget guidelines; improved compliance with the MOF&PS budget guidelines and a prepared budget that reflects the Ministry’s priorities for 2011/2012.
The sessions involve officials from the Ministry, the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, regional Health Authorities, National Council on Drug Abuse, National Family Planning Board, Child Development Agency, the Children’s Registry, National Public Health Lab, Pesticides Control Authority, National Health Fund, Government Chemist, Registrar General’s Department and the University Hospital of the West Indies.
A number of working sessions will also be held from November 25 to December 1, during which each entity will be given assistance to craft their budget.