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The Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) supporting the Government’s move to review the abolition of user fees in the public health care system.

The 2012/2013 LASCO/NAJ Nurse of the Year, Victoria Melhado, made the declaration at a public education forum staged by the NAJ on November 23, at Emancipation Park in New Kingston.

Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, informed earlier this year, that two studies are to be undertaken to identify gaps in the system, in areas such as human resource, finance, and the provision of medical, nursing, pharmacy, allied health and auxiliary health services.

He said the review process is in keeping with Government’s thrust to strengthen primary health care, and to raise the bar as it relates to the services provided in secondary and tertiary health care facilities.

The Health Minister, at the time, stated that while Government wants to offer free health care, it cannot afford to adequately fund quality care across the system. He said that the aim is to come up with a workable alternative, and assured that whatever solution is arrived at, no one would be denied access to health care.

Nurse Melhado, in stating her association’s approval of the review, stated that persons in first world countries pay to receive and experience quality health care and so too should Jamaicans.

“This is the Nurses Association of Jamaica stance, and a general consensus amongst health care workers, especially those of us who are working at the bedsides of patients each day,” she stated.

She said the association is of the opinion that special arrangements can be made for the most vulnerable in the society, such as children and the elderly, but “other persons should acknowledge some amount of social responsibility."

The education forum, under the theme: ‘Against Child Abuse, Incest and Child Trafficking: Let’s Protect Our Children!’, was held in collaboration with the non- government organisation, Be Inspired International, which Nurse Melhado heads.

The event sought to bring attention to various issues affecting children and to examine measures in place, and strategies being implemented,to safeguard their rights, in terms of prevention, protection and prosecution. 

The event formed part of activities to mark Youth and Parent Month, as well as International Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse, in November.