JIS News

Minister of Health, Rudyard Spencer, has called for an alliance between the health sector and other sectors of the society, pointing out that the issue of healthcare is not the exclusive domain of health professionals.
“The health sector must forge and maintain strategic alliances with other sectors such as agriculture, tourism, environment and customs and immigration, to protect the health and well being of all our people,” he stated.
Mr. Spencer was giving the keynote address at the official opening ceremony of the First North American Regional Caribbean Congress on Epilepsy, held at the Rose Hall Resort and Country Club, in Montego Bay, on Saturday (May 31).
The Minister said he was making the call against the background of his recent attendance at the 61st World Health Assembly that was held in Geneva, where, he said, the borderlessness of health issues was brought into sharp focus. With this in mind, the Minister noted that he intends to outline a bold vision for health care in Jamaica, when he makes his presentation to the Sectoral Debate in a few days.
“It (the sector) needs the support of every Jamaican in every nook and cranny of this country. Health is one area on which there should be no division in this country, not in our Parliament, not among professional groups and not among bureaucrats,” he stated.
In reference to epilepsy, Minister Spencer pointed out that although it might not be considered an illness that has a significant impact on the country’s disease burden, it is of critical importance that health practitioners be reoriented within the context of the right of every Jamaican to access care, as it relates to this condition.
He said that the stigma associated with the illness has been known to affect the health seeking behaviour of patients, adding that studies have shown that three out of four persons with that illness do not receive treatment for economic or social reasons.
“We want a country where all people are valued irrespective of their social, economic, physical or mental condition,” he emphasized.
The Health Minister insisted that the main strategic planks of the national policy on health to be developed later this year, must include the Government’s position on discrimination, and must establish parameters within which the Jamaican people can access care in a manner that shows respect for their dignity and right to privacy.