Sun | Mar 18, 2018

Health Check | Health sector needs financial injection

Published:Monday | December 18, 2017 | 12:00 AM
The Accident and Emergency area at the University Hospital of the West Indies earlier this year.

President of the Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association (JMDA), Dr Elon Thompson, is of the view that chronic deficiencies within the public health sector will remain unless Government injects more funding into the sector.

Commenting on the state of high-risk clinical delivery service areas, two years after significant deficiencies were uncovered, the JMDA president said better financing was required to address problems in the long term. Since the deficiencies in equipment inventory, drug supply, infection-control procedures, and supply of sundries were identified in 2015, the major public hospitals have improved their service delivery.

However, this has not been to the satisfaction of the JMDA, whose public complaint triggered the audits by the Ministry of Heath through the regional health authorities.

"We need to look at health financing, as it is documented that at least 30 per cent of the health budget is wasted through inefficiencies such as procuring supplies that are not used and ineffective equipment," Thompson told The Gleaner. "We have to fast-track plans to implement health financing."

He added that the Government should inform the public that their health insurance is accepted by public hospitals and to make it mandatory for persons to use it at public health facilities.

In this regard, the Nurses' Association of Jamaica's immediate past president, Janet Coore-Farr, believes "there are many people in the country who want to pay, but have not been given the opportunity to do so".

In addition to inadequate financing, the JMDA president reasoned that the major issue throughout the health sector is the existence of "a reactive approach rather than a proactive one, which is pervasive throughout the health sector and is responsible for the problems we are currently experiencing.

"Some problems require a mindset adjustment to be fixed. I think, in general, the issues are with mindset and providing resources to fix the problem," suggested Thompson.