JIS News

Minister of Health and Environment, Rudyard Spencer, has said that the Ministry will be putting a monitoring team in place to assist the country with meeting the health-related United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“We will establish a monitoring team in the Ministry of Health and Environment to track the performance of the goals and to provide consistent focus and direction in the implementation activities,” Mr. Spencer said during his contribution to the 2008/09 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 3.
He noted that the team will, among other things, monitor the rehabilitation of primary care including the upgrading of facilities; publish semi-annual and annual reports on the health-related MDGs; improve inter-agency collaboration; and implement effective public education strategies to get the public more aware and involved in the process.
Mr. Spencer, in giving an update of the country’s progress in achieving the health-related MDGs, said that “Jamaica’s report card .clearly points to some areas of success and other areas that could benefit from the intervention of our international partners and a more focused and strategic implementation agenda.”
In terms of the first MDG, which is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, the Health Minister noted that Jamaica has had some success in poverty reduction, which has moved from 18.7 per cent in 2000 to 14.3 per cent in 2006 through a National Poverty Eradication Programme.
As part of this initiative, Jamaica’s welfare programmes were consolidated into the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), and the National Health Fund (NHF) was introduced, to provide individual benefit to assist in meeting the cost of drugs for specific illnesses, and institutional benefit to the public and private health sectors in the areas of health promotion and illness prevention.
Reduction of child mortality, which is the fourth MDG, is also another area that has seen some progress, in that child mortality has declined from 32 per 1,000 live births to 25 per 1,000 live births. The Minister noted, however, that infant mortality has to be reduced as it has remained at 19.8 per 1,000 live births.
In addition, the maternal mortality rate has declined from 110 per 100,000 in 2000 to 95 per 100,000, which is in keeping with the fifth MDG, which stipulates an improvement in maternal health.
Turning to combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, the sixth MDG, Mr. Spencer noted that Jamaica’s comprehensive HIV control programme has maintained adult HIV prevalence at 1.5 per cent for the past 10 years. More than 60 per cent of persons with advanced HIV and AIDS are on free antiretroviral treatment through the Global Fund Grant, and HIV transmission from mother to child has been reduced from 25 per cent to 5 per cent. The Health Minister said that Jamaica needed financial and technical support to achieve the behaviour change necessary to control the epidemic.
Pointing to the outbreak of malaria in Kingston during late 2006 to early 2007, the Minister said that due to the outstanding work of the Ministry’s health team, Jamaica fully controlled the outbreak and eliminated local transmission of malaria.
There was also some reduction in cases of tuberculosis, as there were 127 cases of tuberculosis in 2000 and 100 in 2007. “We need to maintain our vigilance to ensure that we maintain stable prevalence,” Mr. Spencer noted.
Additionally, in keeping with the seventh MDG, which is to ensure environmental sustainability, the Health Minister informed that access to safe water has increased from 60 per cent in 2000 to 77 per cent; access to sanitary means of excreta disposal is 98 per cent; and under-nutrition remains low at 4 per cent.
The MDGs are eight goals to be achieved by 2015, in response to the world’s main development challenges. The MDGs are drawn from the actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by 189 nations and signed by 147 heads of state and governments during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000.