JIS News

Diabetics, who are beneficiaries of the National Health Fund (NHF), are now able to test their blood sugar levels by using glucometers, which are being made available to NHF cardholders free of cost.
In a recent interview with JIS News, Public Relations Officer at the NHF, Rosemarie Lee disclosed that beneficiaries have been receiving glucometers upon making requests to either their physicians or pharmacists.
A glucometer is a small, portable machine that can be used to check blood glucose concentrations. After pricking the skin with a lancet or needle, a drop of blood is placed on a test strip in the machine. The meter (or monitor) then displays the blood glucose concentration as a number on the meter’s digital display.
In the case of diabetics utilising the insulin delivery system, Mrs. Lee said a penfill applicator is used with a needle to deliver the insulin dosage.
Explaining the process by which diabetics can access glucometers or other helpful devices, Mrs. Lee said the beneficiary must decide on the specific item he or she finds suitable for their unique condition. “A list of the items available is published and the beneficiary may seek advice from their medical doctor or pharmacist,” she explained.
However, before the glucometer or any device can be given to a beneficiary, the NHF Public Relations Officer said beneficiaries must first call the NHF Customer Service line and provide such information as their name, NHF card number, contact telephone number and address, and the brand of the item they are desirous of acquiring.
“The NHF will validate the information to ensure that the beneficiary is enrolled for diabetes and once the status is verified, the NHF will pass the information to the distributor of the device requested, who will in turn, contact the beneficiary to make delivery,” Mrs. Lee told JIS.
Local distributors of glucometers in the island include, H.D. Hopwood Limited, LASCO Distributors, Cari-Med Limited, Inter Commercial Distributors, and Qualcare Limited.
Mrs. Lee pointed out that facilitating access to glucometers signified a component of the NHF’s overall mandate, which is to reduce the burden on the national healthcare system.
Earlier this month, in a move to broaden the accessibility of drugs to persons with chronic illnesses, the Fund increased its subsidy for all items subsidised and expanded the NHF card benefits to include diabetic supplies that assist persons with diabetes to better monitor and manage their condition.
Beyond enabling access to glucometers, Mrs. Lee said the NHF had also implemented other measures to assist diabetics and those plagued with other chronic illnesses.
The Fund began a series of health fairs in 2004, and community health days in 2005 to help persons to identify and monitor their health conditions so they can be better able to manage them.
Mrs. Lee said at these events, “several tests are offered free to community members and include electrocardiogram (ECG), blood sugar, blood circulation, blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and vision tests. diabetics are also offered free foot care.and referrals are made for persons to see a medical doctor when necessary.”
Currently, there are 65,000 persons afflicted with diabetes who are NHF card holders, and also enrolled with Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme (JADEP). Approximately 186,000 persons who suffer from various chronic illnesses are registered as cardholders with the NHF and JADEP.