- Significant strides were made in the areas of education and training as the Government seeks to prepare a high-qualified workforce.
- Ground was broken in February to begin construction on the over $140 million Cardiac Wing at the Bustamante Hospital for Children through private funding.
- Government also made significant strides in the way of creating a modern, responsive and efficient public service.
The development of the country’s human capital formed a major strategic objective for the Government in 2013.
This saw the administration making significant inroads in the areas of education; school improvement; development and strengthening of the health care system; and the creation of a modern public service.
Significant strides were made in the areas of education and training as the Government seeks to prepare a high-qualified workforce.
More than 100 literacy specialists/reading coaches were deployed to 450 primary, all-age and junior high schools, as well as 25 high schools. The placement of reading coaches in schools is part of measures by the Ministry of Education (MoE) to lift literacy standards, and achieve 85 per cent mastery among grade four students by 2015.
A number of school plants were expanded and upgraded throughout the year. Among those institutions which underwent expansion works was the Garvey Maceo High School in Clarendon; Glengoffe High in St. Catherine and Holy Trinity High School in Kingston. Belair High in Manchester also saw the addition of eight classrooms, facilitating the accommodation of an additional 105 students at Grade Seven. The institution also saw an expanded sixth form and was designated a Grant-in-Aid school. Additionally, the Moreland Hill Primary and Infant School was open in Westmoreland, while the Cedar Grove High School in St. Catherine was opened in September on a phased basis, starting with 100 Grade Seven students.
There was also the removal of a number of schools from the shift system to facilitate an enhanced education system. These included the Glengoffe High School; Holy Trinity High School; Albion Primary and Junior High, St. James; Sandy Bay Primary and Junior High, St. James; and the Bethabra Primary and Junior High, Manchester.
As the Government improved access to education, some 1,000 tertiary level students from Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) households across the island benefitted from scholarships valued at $100 million to complete their studies.
The Government of Jamaica provided the bursaries of $100,000 each, under the PATH Tertiary Bursary to assist the students. The allocation represents a significant investment not only in the youth of Jamaica, but also in the development and growth of the country as a whole.
Students under PATH were also provided with transportation grants at the start of the new academic year, as part of efforts to improve school attendance.
Ground was broken in February to begin construction on the over $140 million Cardiac Wing at the Bustamante Hospital for Children through private funding.
The state-of-the-art facility, on track for completion in mid-February, will be the first of its kind in Latin America and the Caribbean. “We are proud that Jamaica will be leading the way in giving the highest level of care that skills and equipment can provide,” stated Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson.
The 30,000 square foot facility will accommodate 10 beds, and will be equipped with state-of-the-art operating theatres as well as offices, nurses’ stations and a doctors’ rest station.
The Surgical Ward and the Burn Unit at Bustamante were also refurbished at a cost of approximately $5.7 million.
A 25-bed new maternity ward was officially opened at the Black River Hospital, in St. Elizabeth. A building on the premises was converted and refurbished by the NHF at a cost of approximately $15 million.
Also, some US$23.5 million in upgrading works was carried out at Bellevue Hospital in Kingston to overhaul the kitchen; create state-of-the-art Department of Dietetics and Nutrition, which boasts amenities.
The Princess Margaret Hospital in St. Thomas received a state-of-the-art digital x-ray unit, which will increase its capacity to provide quick and efficient diagnostic services. The digital x-ray unit was purchased at a cost of $12.6 million, by the NHF.
Ground was broken in March 22, to commence construction of a 47-bed female ward at the St. Ann’s Bay Hospital, St. Ann, which forms part of $83 million improvement works being carried out at the facility.
The project is being undertaken at a cost of $73 million with funds provided by the National Health Fund (NHF).
The facility, which will have two on-call rooms for doctors, a conference room, and a staff room, among other features, is slated for completion within eight months.
Upgrading of primary health care system continued during the year with the refurbishing of a number of clinics across the island. Among these was the Charles Chin Loy Health Centre in West Kingston. The Type II facility will provide maternal and child health care as well as curative services such as chronic diseases treatment and care, nutrition, paediatric and dental services, and mental health care.
It was refurbished at a cost of $31 million through funding support from the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund.
The Oak Glade Health Centre in South West St. Andrew was opened after extensive upgrading at a cost of $33.98 million. The facility serves approximately 20,000 residents.
CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE
The first of four facilities across the island, being established as centres of excellence for primary health care, was opened in November.
The Santa Cruz Health Centre of Excellence was completed at a cost of $25 million. Another $88 million will be spent in phase two, bringing the total investment to $113 million.
The other three centres at Darliston, Westmoreland; Isaac Barrant, St. Thomas; and Claremont, in St. Ann, are at varying stages of completion. Ground was broken for the $40 million Claremont facility in August, while the $17.8 million contract for the Darliston centre was signed in February. The Ministry also signed multi-million dollar contracts totalling $25 million for the Isaac Barrant health facility.
Up to June, work was completed on 20 health centres at a cost of $54.8 million under the Primary Health Care Infrastructure Improvement Project. The improvement works included those ongoing from 2012.
The Ministry of Health also implemented a major strategy, which resulted in the creation of one authority for Sexual Reproductive Health. The National Family Planning Board and some aspects of the National HIV Programme were merged.
The move gives effect to one of the key strategies outlined in Vision 2030 Jamaica National Development Plan which is to expand and improve integration of family planning, maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS, into primary health care.
Government also made significant strides in the way of creating a modern, responsive and efficient public service to support national development in 2013.
Some achievements in this area include the commencement of the public sector and pension reform and transformation process, including the start of the parliamentary debate on the Pensions (Superannuation Funds and Retirement Schemes) (Validation and Amendment) Act.
Public sector pension reform, slated for implementation by April 2016, will entail civil servants contributing to their pensions.
The public sector transformation process is geared towards cutting public sector spending, which is also a requirement of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal.
In 2013, the reform process also saw the Jamaica Customs being changed to an Executive Agency, thereby enabling it to effectively carry out its operations autonomously.