- Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson has encouraged the NHF to place greater focus on health promotion, illnesses prevention, and research.
- Since the establishment of the Fund over a decade ago, only $1 billion was spent on the prevention of a number of illnesses while over $20 million was spent on medication subsidy.
- Dr. Ferguson said more should be spent on research.
Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson has encouraged the National Health Fund (NHF) to place greater focus on health promotion, illnesses prevention, and research.
This, he said, is in order to ensure the continued delivery of quality medical care to all Jamaicans.
He noted that since the establishment of the Fund over a decade ago, only $1 billion was spent on the prevention of a number of illnesses while over $20 million was spent on medication subsidy, and to improve facilities.
“In the second ten years, we have to refocus, we have no problems with the institutional development which is necessary, the individual benefits that have responded to the chronic diseases but there are the questions of health prevention and promotion and research,” he stated.
Dr. Ferguson said more should be spent on research. “We must also be doing it against the background not just supporting research without having any kind of intellectual property control or being able to patent the critical work done, but we now in 2014 must move in a direction that the rest of the world is moving,” he said.
The Minister was speaking at the official opening of the island’s first anti-cancer screening laboratory at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus in St. Andrew on April 29.
He noted that the opening of the anti-cancer screening research laboratory is a step in the right direction in supporting and strengthening cancer prevention in the island.
“The strengthening of the laboratory services will be an important part of our activities that will focus on improving the early detection and treatment of cancer. We have already begun work on improving the histopathology and cytopathology services,” he said.
Highlighting the significance of the laboratory, the Health Minister gave his Ministry’s commitment to support the development of the laboratory.
“We will be working with the Fund to ensure that we too will become a worthwhile partner and to ‘put your money where your mouth is’,” he said.
Primarily, the NHF was tasked to manage Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), by providing a subsidy for prescription medication, and support for public and private sector entities involved in primary health care.
The NHF is also involved in health promotion and illnesses prevention. Due to the success of the NHF model, other countries in the region have sought to establish similar entities as part of their universal health care plan.
Established in April, 2003, the NHF has some 284,880 beneficiaries, with satellite offices in Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Mandeville. Persons can register for the health card at hospitals, health centres, and at pharmacies.
The agency is funded through a special tax on cigarettes, and a percentage of National Insurance Scheme (NIS) contributions.