Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says public consultations are being considered to determine whether the government will maintain or revise the existing no-user fee policy at public health institutions islandwide.
He made the disclosure while addressing the contract signing ceremony for the upgrading of the Santa Cruz Health Centre in St. Elizabeth, held on Tuesday (January 15) at the Percy Junor Hospital in Spauldings, Clarendon.
The Minister, who was responding to media reports suggesting that changes are to be made to the policy shortly, said that no decision has been taken.
“We have not taken a decision, as was reported, that by the end of this month a user fee policy will be in place. The policy must be reviewed and in this review, the people of Jamaica should be brought into the discussions,” he stated.
Dr. Ferguson informed that consultations on the matter have been proposed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in its study being done on the sustainability of the country’s health sector.
“The IDB is in the final stage of completing that study… that takes into account a number of issues. I have been promised that we (at the Ministry) will get that study by the end of January. But, essentially, coming out of that, there is going to be the need, starting almost now, for national consultations,” the Minister said.
The Minister stressed the need to determine, “possibly by the next financial year” what the policy pertaining to fees will be, going forward.
This, he said, is important in ensuring consistent delivery of efficient health care, while lamenting that “down time is just (occurring too) regularly”.