Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says the Government is committed to a healthy and stable population, through the repositioning of primary health care.
"There is going to be a shift in priority, there is going to be a shift in relation to primary health care (which will) become the strategic focus in this Ministry,” the Minister declared.
"We have some critical hospitals right across the country, delivering secondary or tertiary care, that we will have to continue, but in the present policy pursuit, the kind of pressure that is coming on our secondary institutions, we must be in a position to get primary care going in a way that it will ease the pressure on secondary care," he added.
Dr. Ferguson was speaking during a tour of the Princess Margaret Hospital in St. Thomas, on January 19.
The Minister pointed out that many of the reports that are made to the accident and emergency sections of the hospitals can be dealt with at the primary level.
“We are looking to have diagnostic tools at the primary level that will allow for many things that we now have to do in the hospital sector; we will be able to do it at the primary level,” he said.
The Minister noted that the staffing in that area will soon be improved, following the signing of an agreement between Cuba and Jamaica.
Under the agreement, Cuba will send doctors, medical technologists, cytotechnologists, nurses, nursing tutors, physiotherapists and clinical dietitians to Jamaica.
The health professionals and technical personnel were identified following a rigorous process of selection, which involved Ministry of Health and regional health authority personnel travelling to the People’s Republic of Cuba to conduct interviews.
He informed that staff will be placed in the primary health care sector, to give an immediate boost to service delivery at this level of the health system.
In his remarks, Chairman, South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), Lyttleton Shirley, said public/private partnership is critical in moving the sector forward.
During the tour, the Minister handed over a vehicle to be used in the vector control programme within the parish.
Dr. Ferguson said the vehicle would facilitate the movement of officers when carrying out fogging exercises across the parish, adding that the provision of adequate and reliable transportation was important to effectively reduce vector related diseases.
Medical doctor at the facility, Dr. D’Oyen Smith, expressed thanks for the vehicle, arguing that it is critical in the management and prevention of diseases.
Also on the tour were members of the Ministry; and Chief Executive Officer of the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, Billy Heaven. They also toured the Isaac Barrant and Bath Health Centres in the parish.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter