Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, has underscored the pivotal role the National Health Fund (NHF) continues to play in the delivery of medical care, particularly in public health institutions.
Addressing the staff of the National Public Health Laboratory recently, following a tour of the institution on Slipe Pen Road, Kingston, to view refurbishing and upgrading works being undertaken, Dr. Ferguson contended that the NHF’s establishment in 2003 “represents one of the most far-reaching policy decisions that any government could take for health”.
The Minister pointed out that the fund’s inputs have enabled the Ministry, through its departments, agencies and health facilities, to respond “in a very clear way” to some 15 chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), which, he informed, currently accounts for over 56 per cent of deaths occurring in Jamaica. These diseases, he lamented, cost the Government in excess US$170 million annually for the administration of healthcare to persons suffering from the resulting illnesses.
“This institution…has also been very instrumental in our Capital ‘A’ Budget. In fact, for this year of the $610 million (earmarked) for Capital A, $600 million is from the National Health Fund. And it has been like that for some time now where the NHF has been taking up, significantly, where the Consolidated Fund would have been working,” he pointed out.
The primary source of funding for the NHF is derived from the equivalent of 0.5 per cent allocated from National Insurance Scheme (NIS) payments paid by employees and matched by their employers.
In commending the NHF for its inputs and support, Dr. Ferguson said that of importance, going forward, is the Ministry’s focus on ensuring that expenditures from NHF allocations yielded value for money.