JIS News

The National Health Fund (NHF) has paid out approximately $1.95 billion for just over two million claims received from individual benefit cardholders during the period October 1, 2008 to October 31, 2009, representing a $43 million increase over the previous year.
Chief Executive Officer, Hugh Lawson, speaking at the NHF’s Provider Awards Ceremony at the Terra Nova Hotel on Monday (November 23), said that the two million claims represent a 17 per cent increase over the previous year, with senior citizens registered under the Jamaica Drug for the Elderly Programme (JADEP) accounting for 761,000 of the submissions received, a five per cent increase over 2007/08.
He commended the partnership of the NHF with the pharmaceutical providers for the “significant achievement”.
“The network of providers has, once again, overachieved. You have filled more prescriptions for JADEP and NHF cards (this year) than you did in previous years. Without the nearly 400 private providers, who have signed contracts with the NHF to accept the NHF card, the programme would not have been as successful as it is today,” Mr. Lawson contended.
He argued that, in light of the prevailing economic challenges, more Jamaicans will require assistance in meeting the “ever increasing cost” of their health care, noting that the NHF/JADEP programme will continue to strive for excellence in caring for persons with chronic conditions.
Health Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, in a speech delivered by NHF Chairman, Dr. Lester Woolery, commended the Fund’s achievement, and urged pharmacies to insist that cardholders present these when filling prescriptions.
“It is critical that the practice of promoting the use of the NHF card for prescriptions on the NHF drug list, which are also (on) the vital, essential and necessary (VEN) drug list, be reinstated. I’m, therefore, urging all the Regional Health Authority pharmacies to get on board,” the Health Minister said.
The Minister expressed satisfaction with the increase in the number of pharmaceuticals on the NHF drug list to upwards of 1,300, with the VEN list growing to 738 items. These drugs, he added, are continuously under review “as we continue to try to meet the needs of the Jamaican people”.
He noted further that the Government is in the process of sourcing less expensive drugs “to ensure that we can have a more reliable supply of pharmaceuticals as well as increase the amount of drugs, which we can access with limited funding. Talks are underway with our overseas suppliers, and we are moving full speed ahead to be able to better provide these items to the Jamaican people.”
Mr. Spencer also informed of the partnership between the NHF and University of Technology (UTech) to train pharmacy technicians, in order to address the prevailing shortage of personnel in the sector. “We know there is a shortage, and we hope that by increasing the number of technicians in the system, we can enable our pharmacists to focus on the more technical tasks,” he stated.
Upwards of 25 awards and presentations were made to private and public sector pharmacies, which filled prescriptions and dispensed pharmaceuticals during 2008/09.
The highlight of the function was the presentation of six Diamond Awards to pharmacies making the NHF’s top 30 list of providers. These are: Matilda’s Corner Pharmacy, Liguanea; the University of the West Indies Health Centre Pharmacy, Mona, St. Andrew; Eastern Pharmacy on Windward Road, Kingston; Lifeline Pharmacy, Spanish Town, St. Catherine; James’ Family Pharmacy in Mandeville, Manchester; and Cornerstone Pharmacy in May Pen, Clarendon.
Each entity received a value package, courtesy of the NHF, comprising a computer with the appropriate systems, which Mr. Lawson explained, are designed to facilitate smooth integration of their existing software with the NHF’s systems.
Established in 2003, the NHF provides assistance to persons to purchase specific prescription drugs used in the treatment and management of designated chronic illnesses. The NHF also funds projects in the national healthcare system to improve its effectiveness.

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