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Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, has called on governments in the region to put measures in place to ensure that health care is more accessible to its citizens, particularly the less fortunate.
“We must begin to view health as critical to the survival of the region’s peoples. When placed within the context of a fundamental right, it becomes incumbent upon our governments to remove the impediments to access to health care across all regions,” the Minister said.
He was speaking at the opening ceremony for the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) Caribbean Sub-Regional Managers’ Meeting this morning (April 13) at the Jamaica Pegasus in Kingston.
Stating that health should be viewed as a strategic resource for human development and security, Minister Spencer said that more focus needs to be placed on developing coherent programmes that are linked to the priorities of the region, and a stronger mechanism put in place to facilitate increased collaboration with non-state actors, including non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), civil society, the private sector and other development partners.
He also urged decision makers to take note of the increasing feminisation of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the marginalisation of males, the impact of violence on health, and the rise in chronic non-communicable disease, the latter of which, he said, accounts for 69 per cent of deaths and 65 per cent of disability-adjusted life in the region.

Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer (left), listens to a point from Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Mirta Roses Periago (right), at the opening ceremony of the PAHO Caribbean Sub-Regional Managers’ Meeting this morning (April 13) at the Jamaica Pegasus in Kingston. Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sheila Campbell Forrester and PAHO/World Health Organization (WHO) representative to Jamaica, Dr. Ernest Pate, also participated in the discussion.

“Caribbean deaths from non-communicable diseases are 10 times higher than that of HIV/AIDS-related deaths,” he pointed out.
Director of PAHO, Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, in the meantime, commended the Government for supporting the work of the organisation both regionally and globally.
She made special mention of the contribution of Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Health, Dr. Sheila Campbell Forrester.
“I would like to recognise the role of the CMO, who has been participating in many committees and sub-committees at the global level with distinction and carrying the voice of the Caribbean (with) a strong public health approach, and also calling attention to the needs of the region, (and) of the Americas as a whole,” she said.
The Caribbean Sub-regional Managers’ Meeting is held each year to discuss technical co-operation issues, progress made and ways forward for regional countries supported by PAHO.
The four-day meeting, which is being held for the first time in Jamaica, will look at how the Caribbean can be more effective in planning technical co-operation and will examine the approaches Jamaica has been taking.
Topics to be discussed include: Health Information System with specific focus on Health Information Policy; Need-based Human Resource Planning; Opportunities and Challenges for Technical Cooperation; Monitoring and Evaluation of Technical Co-operation Programmes; Institutional and Administrative Resource Support for Technical Cooperation Programme; Non-communicable Diseases, Adolescent Health and HIV/AIDS; and the Implementation of the International Health Regulations and Implications for Food Safety and Security.