As part of efforts to reduce Jamaica’s burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the Ministry of Health and Wellness is pursuing a new chronic care model that offers a departure from business as usual in local health care delivery.
The model advances, among other things, an extensive network of health facilities that offer health promotion; disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment; as well as palliative care.
It also champions the delivery of specialised services at the most appropriate location, including in non-hospital settings; and against the background of care that is person-, family- and community-centred.
With the goal to improve access to safe, equitable care for NCDs – including the establishment of a comprehensive package of services for NCDs prevention and control – the model also functions as the framework for the implementation of the Ministry’s ongoing Health Systems Strengthening Programme (https://hssp.moh.gov.jm/).
That programme (#HSSPja) 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. It is also seeing the physical upgrade of three hospitals and 10 health facilities, and is projected to benefit some 800,000 people.
In addition, it is seeing 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.
Financed through the Inter-American Development Bank, the programme is tackling badly needed physical upgrades at 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.
The Health Systems Strengthening Programme is also seeing the purchase of new equipment to support the delivery of care to enable the best possible health outcomes for individuals using the public health system.
The scale of the NCDs challenge facing the island is reflected in data from the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey 2016/2017. It includes that one in three Jamaicans 15 years and older has hypertension; one in eight has diabetes and one in two is overweight/obese – a modifiable risk factor for NCDs.
Further, four of every 10 Jamaicans with diabetes and four of every 10 with hypertension are unaware of their status. Beyond that, 70.2% (63.3% male, 73.2% females) of Jamaicans 15 years and older with hypertension are on treatment. Of those on treatment, only 31% (26% males, 33.1% females) are controlled.