A range of cost saving initiatives implemented by the Ministry of Health since 2009, should result in savings of approximately $1 billion, says Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer.
Health Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, emphasizing a point during the Ministry’s Post Sectoral Debate media briefing at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, on Wednesday (September 22).
The Minister made the disclosure as he delivered the opening presentation of the second segment of the 2010/11 Sectoral Debate in Parliament on Tuesday (September 21).
He noted that this included finding less expensive sources of drugs, resulting in savings of over $386 million; better management of overtime; sessions and emergency duty roster for key health workers, realising savings in excess of $44 million; and staffing changes resulting in over $506 million in savings.
Improved debt management, which cut costs by $42 million and other changes in maintenance, service delivery and catering, amounting to over $30 million in savings, were some of the other initiatives.
“Almost $400 million of (the overall savings) represents savings resulting from procurement forgone based on gifts received in the South East Regional Health Authority,” he said.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Jean Dixon (left), addressing journalists at the Ministry’s Post Sectoral Debate media briefing at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, on Wednesday (September 22). Looking on is Health Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer.
Arguing that cost cutting will not put the Ministry on a path of sustainable financing, Mr. Spencer said that the administration is interested in seeking alternative sources of funding for the health sector.
“We did that for medical gases with the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund and the National Health Fund (NHF) providing support to the tune of $154 million,” he said, adding that the Ministry is also pursuing strategies to improve the efficiency with which medical gases are delivered to facilities.
Mr. Spencer also pointed out that the introduction of the Government of Jamaica (GoJ) Health Card, will improve the Ministry’s ability to collect health insurance from those who have coverage, while the Ministry continues to forego the co-payments.
To advance the agenda to pursue alternative means of financing the health sector, Mr. Spencer pointed out that he recently appointed a Business Development Committee.
With membership drawn from the Ministry, Board Chairmen of Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) and senior officials of the regions, the committee is expected to conduct a benchmarking exercise to identify health care jurisdictions that have successfully implemented public/private initiatives, and audit all health facilities to confirm the existence and the potential for public/private initiatives.
The committee is also mandated to develop a comprehensive list of acceptable public/private initiatives for consideration and approval, and develop policy guidelines for the sharing and outsourcing of services such as diagnostic, physiotherapy and radiology to private enterprises.