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JIS News

Chairman of the Jamaica Association of Full Gospel Churches, Bishop Rohan Edwards, has said that since the implementation of the Government’s free health care policy, the number of persons seeking financial assistance from the church for medical care has declined.
In an interview with JIS News, Bishop Edwards said that the free health care policy has helped “because some people, who I know, who would normally go to the hospital and would have to pay the fees, do not have to pay it any more and so it’s a big plus.”
“I know that there are some people, who are thinking that it should be removed…my feeling is that they (Government) should have put a control in it so that people, who can afford it, don’t go and get free health care. It should be strictly for those persons, who are poor and can’t afford it,” he stated.
Since April 1, 2008, patients at public hospitals and health centres, except the University of the West Indies, started to benefit from a number of health services free of cost.
The services for which fees were waived at public health facilities include: registration; doctor’s examination; surgeries; medications; diagnostic services (x-rays and lab tests); haematology; antenatal care (such as family planning and pregnancy tests); ambulance service; physiotherapy; and renal dialysis.
The primary aim of the policy, as outlined by the Government, is to erase an impediment to poor Jamaicans accessing health care, by providing equity in medical treatment in the public sector while hastening the repositioning of primary health care as the foundation of a sustainable health system.
Since the implementation of the free health care policy, Jamaicans have saved more than $1 billion in disposable income since 2008.
In the meantime, Bishop Edwards said that as a result of the decline in persons asking for financial assistance, the church has been able to channel more funds into its Soup Feeding programme.
The church operates a soup kitchen one day per week at the Lighthouse Assembly in Spanish Town, and “we would like to have the soup kitchen open for five days for the week. So persons, who are not able to have a meal, can come and get a hot meal.”
“We are averaging 150 persons per week and persons come from De La Vega City, Salt Pond Road, March Pen, Lakes Pen, and Lime Tree Grove,” he informed.