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Health Minister, John Junor has announced plans for further expansion of benefits provided by the National Health Fund (NHF).
He pointed out that medication for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or enlarged prostate would now be added to the Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme (JADEP) and the NHF, once the necessary approval process was completed.
Minister Junor, who was making his contribution to the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on May 11, further noted that high cholesterol would also be included in JADEP, hence the number of illnesses covered under the programme would move to 10.
“In addition, new drugs are being added to the JADEP drug list for existing conditions, increasing the number of items covered by JADEP by almost 100 per cent from 38 to 72 prescription items,” the Minister said.
Mr. Junor noted that in its short time since inception, the NHF has been certified by the International Organisation for Standardisation as having a world-class quality management system that delivered service of the highest standard to its customers.
This, the Minister attributed to an efficient management system, which was the key to the NHF’s delivery of benefits to individuals and institutions.
The NHF provides two categories of benefits. These are individual, which provides subsidies for persons of all ages for specified pharmaceuticals used in the treatment and management of chronic illnesses, including JADEP which provides drugs free of cost, for persons 60 years and over; and institutional benefit, which provides for the entire population, through grants to public and private sector entities for health promotion and illness prevention, as well as public sector projects to improve infrastructure.
During the year, the NHF increased membership for its individual benefits programme, the Minister said, to approximately 60,000 persons and absorbed some 100,000 persons on the JADEP programme. “This was achieved through targeted promotions at 112 events, advertising campaigns, community health days and other customer service initiatives,” he said.
The Minister further disclosed that efforts were being made to increase enrollment in the NHF Individual Benefits programme, through a number of activities. This, he said, included the introduction of Customer Service Agents for a six-month period in hospitals and health centres across the island, to ensure continued enrollment of persons with chronic conditions.
When the NHF was first established, Minister Junor said some 500 prescription items were on the Individual Benefits Drug list. However, an additional 250 prescription items were added in November 2004, on the recommendation of the Medical Review Committee of the Board.
He noted that one important factor in the success of the programme was the pharmacy network. “The efforts of the NHF together with the demand by the NHF beneficiaries for pharmacies accepting NHF health cards, have resulted in a significant increase in the number of pharmacies contracting with the NHF,” the Minister said.
Mr. Junor added that there were now 220 public and private sector pharmacies islandwide providing service to beneficiaries, and their claims were paid within 10 working days of receipt of such claims.