Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Health sector to get $7 billion increase

Published:Friday | February 20, 2015 | 12:01 AMAnastasia Cunningham

With the significant impact of the chikun-gunya virus and the Ebola scare that rocked Jamaica last year, coupled with the current threat of a measles outbreak, the Government is proposing to considerably increase funding for health promotion and protection to $410 million, up from the allotted $156 million in the last fiscal year.

The Health Promotion and Protection Division, under the Ministry of Health, provides policy advice and direction, and uses its technical expertise in the areas of disease prevention and control, environmental health, health promotion and education, as well as adolescent health, nutrition and dietetics, among other areas.

This allocation is included in the 2015-2016 Estimates of Expenditure tabled in Parliament yesterday by Finance and Planning Minister Dr Peter Phillips.

The Government is estimating to spend a total of $50.3 billion in the health sector over the next financial year, which ends March 2016. This should come as good news for stakeholders in the health industry, as it represents an approximate $7.7 billion increase from last year's expenditure of $42.6 billion.

The HIV/AIDS control programme will also be given a big boost, with an allotted $320 million, up from $172 million. This, in light of the expected end of international aid for the programme.

The National Council on Drug Abuse has been allocated more funds to aid with prevention and control of drug abuse, a total of $103 million, compared to last year's $94 million.

Some $43.8 billion is to be set aside for a comprehensive range of health services at the primary-, secondary- and tertiary-care levels, which will include the four regional health authorities, University Hospital of the West Indies, St Joseph's Hospital and the Jamaica-Cuba Eye Care Programme. This is an increase from the $37.5 billion allotted last year.

EMPHASIS

The four regional health authorities have been charged to place strong emphasis on disease surveillance and control, environmental health, mental health and substance abuse, public health, health promotion, family health and diagnostic and therapeutic health.

Established through a bilateral cooperation agreement with Cuba, the Jamaica-Cuba Eye Care Programme is expected to receive more funds - $56.5 million, up from $48.7 million last fiscal year.

The budget to the National Family Planning Board has also been allotted additional funds of $193 million, up from $108 million last year.

There has also been a significant increase in grants for pharmaceutical and medical supplies, moving to $3.3 billion, up from $1.9 billion allotted in the last fiscal year.

anastasia.cunningham@gleanerjm.com