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Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, has suggested that the country’s Essential Public Health Functions (EPHF) should be appraised at set intervals of at least five years to ensure better health outcomes.
Addressing the opening of a Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) workshop on the evaluation of the EPHF today (July 27), at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, Mr. Spencer contended that regular evaluation is necessary given the frequent changes in health status and needs of the population.
He noted that in Jamaica, and other countries, non-communicable diseases are on the rise and injuries have become a major contributor to the strain on health resources. He stated that animal-related diseases have also become a major threat and there is therefore need to build capacity to protect the animal and human populations.

Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer (right), listens keenly as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Jean Dixon (second left), makes a point at the opening ceremony of a workshop on the Evaluation of the Essential Public Health Functions (EPHF), held this morning (July 27) at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel. Also participating in the discussion is Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry, Dr. Sheila Campbell Forrester.

“The country’s public health system must always be under scrutiny and always be the subject of audit and evaluation, if we are to strengthen delivery, improve governance and ensure sustainability,” he stated.
Mr. Spencer said he was looking forward to the results of the evaluation and stated that the workshop “must point us to a better way”.
PAHO/World Health Organization Representative (WHO) in Jamaica, Dr. Ernest Pate, in his remarks, expressed gratitude to Mr. Spencer and officials from the Ministry for the high level of support received as PAHO undertakes the evaluation.
He suggested that some of the documentation resulting from the four-day workshop, which concludes on July 29, should be circulated to critical partners to ensure that, even as the Ministry improves access to health, factors outside of the Ministry’s control can be addressed as well.

Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sheila Campbell Forrester, and Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO)/ World Health Organisation Representative in Jamaica, Dr. Ernest Pate, share a light exchange during a break in the workshop on the Evaluation of the Essential Public Health Functions (EPHF) held this morning (July 27) at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston.

EPHFs are defined as the indispensable set of actions under the primary responsibility of the state that are fundamental for achieving the goal of public health, which is to improve, promote, protect, and restore the health of the population through collective action.
PAHO/WHO defined the 11 EPHFs, and developed a methodology that allows countries to evaluate, in a comprehensive manner, their public health systems.
They are: monitoring, evaluation, and analysis of health status; surveillance, research, and control of the risks and threats to public health; health promotion; social participation in health; development of policies and institutional capacity for public health planning and management; strengthening of public health regulation and enforcement capacity; evaluation and promotion of equitable access to necessary health services; human resources development and training in public health; quality assurance in personal and population-based health services; research in public health; and reduction of the impact of emergencies and disasters on health.
Jamaica’s last EPHF evaluation was done in 2001 and showed that the country had several areas of strengths and a few weaknesses that needed to be addressed.

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