The Ministry of Health and Wellness on Tuesday launched its US$50-million Health Systems Strengthening Programme, which should boost the island’s capacity to address the scourge of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and the challenge of communicable illnesses.
The programme, which has the ‘organisation and consolidation of integrated health services networks’ and the ‘improvement of management, quality and efficiency of health services’ as its two principal components, is to see the development of three hospitals and 10 health facilities, and is projected to benefit some 800,000 people.
It is also to see the introduction and implementation of an information systems for health – including remote patient monitoring, e-prescription and electronic health record – designed to yield benefits, including collaborative care and cost control.
“This programme is a big deal,” said Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton.
He was addressing attendees to the launch, held at the Courtyard Marriott in Kingston on Tuesday morning.
“It comes after three decades of a health system resourced below the World Health Organisation recommended 6% of GDP (though it has been increased to 4.2% over recent years); 30 years without the constructive of a single new hospital; and more than 70% of current hospital equipment and infrastructure being assessed as at the end of life,” he added.
Financed through the Inter-American Development Bank and with supporting funds to the tune of Euro 10 million from the European Union, the programme, the minister noted, represents an important departure from business as usual in public health in Jamaica and at the right time.
“The Health Systems Strengthening Programme is indicative of a new approach to public health, one that emphasises resilience building and which enables us to efficiently respond to emergent challenges – from NCDs, such as cardiovascular disease to dengue and the new coronavirus,” he said.
It is against this background that the programme is tackling the badly needed physical upgrade of three hospitals, including Spanish Town, St Ann’s Bay and May Pen; and 10 health centres. The health centres are Greater Portmore, Old Harbour, St Jago Park, St Ann’s Bay, Brown’s Town, Ocho Rios, May Pen East, May Pen West, Mocho and Chapelton.
It is also to see the purchase of new equipment to support the delivery of care, in addition to the design and implementation of information systems for health.
“It also takes us further along the road to fulfilling the World Health Organisation criteria for a well-functioning health system, which includes not only improving the health status of individuals, families and communities; but also affording protection against the financial consequences of ill-health, as we see with the current free health care policy; together with the provision of equitable access to people-centred care,” Tufton noted.
Tuesday also saw the contract signing for the design work, to be done to the tune of US$674,000 by the firm Project Planning & Management Ltd, and which will inform the development that is to follow at the 13 health facilities covered under the programme.