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Ground was broken on April 6 for expansion of the Lionel Town Hospital’s training facility, in Clarendon.
Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, said that the facility, to be funded by the National Health Fund (NHF), at a cost of $69.7 million, would be able to train 60 students annually. It will comprise three lecture rooms, two laboratories, a staff room, reception area, a prep room and a computer laboratory.
The Minister also pointed out that as part of the project, a storage area would be renovated to provide housing accommodation for 24 of the students.
Mr. Spencer said that the move to expand the training of health workers, especially in assistive areas, is part of the Government’s commitment to the sector, adding that approximately 500 persons would be trained at a cost of $100 million.
“In 2008, I informed Parliament of our intention to train some 500 persons, including Pharmacy Technicians, Dialysis Technicians, Lab Technician Assistants, Operating Theatre Technicians and Psychiatric Aides, at a cost of $100 million,” he said.
The Minister explained that there is a thrust by the Government to build the human resource capacity in the health sector. “We cannot hope to sustain the health gains that the country has made without a concerted focus on capacity building and retaining those in whom we have invested. Jamaica cannot afford the continued depletion of our human capacity by developed nations that have significantly more resources to train and retrain their own people,” he argued.
Mr. Spencer said that an important part of the strategy of Government is to expand training opportunities in rural Jamaica.
“This is what we have done here, to allow our young people in these rural parts easy access to training. This approach will also help to stem the rural to urban drift, as many young people migrate to urban centres in search of a better future,” he said.
The Minister pointed out that the demand for Pharmacy and Dialysis services is growing fast, as there has been a 44 per cent increase in the number of visits to government run pharmacies since the abolition of user fees, and that the situation is similar with regard to those persons accessing renal services.
Mr. Spencer said that the policy of the Government is that patients should not have to travel for more than 30 minutes to access renal services and that it is important to have the skilled personnel to provide the services, in keeping with that policy objective.
He noted that the development of the training facility at the Lionel Town Hospital gives effect to that policy of providing skilled personnel to provide renal services.
Mr. Spencer also pointed out that to date, 25 Pharmacy Technicians have been trained.
“We started with Pharmacy Technicians, because of the obvious dire need to increase the support available to our highly skilled Pharmacists. This training facility will allow the Government, in partnership with the College of Health Sciences, University of Technology, to increase the number of trained Technicians each year,” he said.