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Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, has said that the Government is committed to maintaining free health care for all Jamaicans at public health facilities. Mr. Shaw was speaking at a Rotary Club of Christiana dinner at the Mandeville Hotel, on Wednesday (March 4) to honour a group of American dentists who have been providing voluntary dental service to Jamaica since 1978.
He noted that while there is a challenge posed by the amount of persons turning up at public health facilties, it is not a cause to scrap what has been very helpful to many people who are unable to pay. “The minister of education is taking steps to have a number of accelerated programmes of training to get more persons into the health system, and assist with the shortage of caregivers in the institutions,” Mr. Shaw said. “In this aspect, health aides have been trained to assist with the process of delivery in the hospitals and health centres across the island,” he added. He noted that the answer to the challenge been experienced since the abolition of user fees at the public health facilities, is not to return to what was existed before.
“The solution cannot be to re-impose user fees, for to re-impose it would, in our opinion, create an artificial barrier to stop the people from going to get healthcare, although they are in need of it,” Mr. Shaw stated.
He said that with the record number of persons now seeking healthcare, it is clear that they were staying away from medical attention in the past. He told the audience that the Government is committed to finding additional resources and additional personnel to boost the health system and meet the demand.
“The country can’t afford to go back there. What we have to do is go forward, and hasten to ensure that we make up for the deficiencies that might exist in the system,” he emphasized.

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