JIS News

Minister of Health, Horace Dalley, has said that the necessary mechanisms are being put in place at all the nation’s public health facilities, to facilitate the abolition of user fees for children 18 years and under come Monday, May 28.
“All hospitals have made certain arrangements to accommodate the implementation of this policy,” he stated at a press briefing held on(May 24) at the Hilton Kingston hotel.
Under the new policy, which was announced by Prime Minister Portia Simpson in her Budget speech earlier this month, services provided in the public health system such as surgeries, diagnostic services, hospital stay, doctor’s care and drugs, will be free to minors.
According to the Health Minister, information relating to the new policy is being disseminated to all health facilities including health centres. Additional information will be available on the Ministry’s website at
This will be supplemented by a public education campaign, which will commence on the weekend and continue for several weeks to ensure that the public is made aware of the policy change.
To ensure that the process flows smoothly come Monday, Mr. Dalley has advised parents and guardians, to take along with them, the minors’ school identification, passport or birth certificate, to the health facilities.
He acknowledged however that “we also know that persons have none of the above. At the hospital, the persons in charge will have to use their discretion if somebody turns up with nothing and say they are under the age limit.”
“We will also use the occasion to ensure that people are registered, so the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) as we go along in implementing this policy, will work closer with the hospitals to capture those children who are not registered,” Minister Dalley informed.
Outlining the process further, the Minister said that patients benefiting from the policy change will be required to go through the normal registration process. “In the final analysis, a bill will be generated but the bill will be stamped, ‘exempt’,” he said. The reason for generating the bill, he explained, is because “we need to know how much it is going to cost for what you came in for. The hospital will still have to track the cost of the health care provided to you.”
In the meantime, the Health Minister urged the public to exercise patience as the new policy gets underway, as while the number of persons visiting health facilities may increase in the early weeks, the staff complement will remain the same.
The Prime Minister, in announcing the policy, noted that children and adolescents make up more than a third of the population and are vulnerable to communicable and chronic diseases, as well as accidents and violence-related injuries.
“The government has endeavoured to be responsive to the needs of our people, even in the quest for economic growth and fiscal responsibility. Of course, there is more work to be done to deliver the first class health care that our people deserve,” she stated.

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