Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says a formal review is to be conducted on the impact of the abolition of the user fee policy on critical areas of the primary health care delivery process.
"This review will determine the gaps in the system across a number of areas, including human resource, finance and the provision of medical, nursing, pharmacy, allied health and auxiliary health services,” he said.
The Minister was addressing the opening of a renovated Ambulatory Surgical Unit, at the Portmore Healthcare Complex in Independence City, on February 9.
He said that this review was necessary as the Government has committed to universal free primary health care, in keeping with the principle of a health sector that is not based on the ability to pay.
"Concurrent with our thrust in strengthening primary health care, however, we intend to raise the bar in terms of secondary and tertiary care,” he said, noting that among the core areas of focus will be establishing a creative incentive programme, aimed at attracting and retaining health care providers in the system, including neglected areas.
The Minister further noted that the administration would also be supporting the construction of a psychiatric ward for 12 to18 year olds at the University Hospital of the West Indies.
"Our focus will also be honed on improving health services that are available to children and adolescents. The Bustamante Hospital for Children is a fine institution of which all of us can be proud. Some expansion will be carried out with the construction of a cardiac unit, but there is need for a facility in western Jamaica that provides similar services to the nation’s children. This is a passion of our Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, and will form part of our thrust,” he said.
Dr. Ferguson said that the Government would also be making a significant intervention with regard to improving facilities for cancer treatment and supporting local research and development in this area.
"There is much scientific evidence to confidently support the claim that medical scientific intervention, when combined with a positive attitude and spiritual fortitude, results in a higher rate of survival of our cancer patients,” he said.
"This Minister will never cease in his search for workable solutions on behalf of anyone who desperately seeks health care,” Dr. Ferguson emphasised.
Opened in 1989, the Portmore Healthcare Complex, which is a private facility, offers specialised care in internal medicine, dermatology, cardiology, paediatrics, general surgery, paediatric surgery, urology, obstetrics and gynaecology, plastic surgery, neurology and physiotherapy.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter