Sun | Mar 18, 2018

Make prescription drugs more available

Published:Monday | April 24, 2017 | 12:00 AM


In 1996, the Government established the Jamaica Drug for the Elderly Programme (JADEP). Since its inception, many Jamaicans, 60 years and older, have benefited from this initiative by receiving their prescription drugs for a minimal fee of $40 per item.

However, there is an urgent need that ought to be addressed - that of the consistency of the drugs supplied to pharmacies. In many instances, the JADEP drugs arrive late at the pharmacies. Additionally, the quantities are insufficient given the growing population of senior citizens.

As the population ages, those 60 years and older become more prone to and are affected by non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, arthritis, hypertension and high cholesterol. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), NCDs kill 40 million people each year - equivalent to 70 per cent of all deaths globally.

The WHO states that NCDs, also known as chronic diseases, are the result of a combination of genetic, psychological, environmental, and behavioural factors. The main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma) and diabetes. There is no family in Jamaica which has not had at least one member affected by these chronic diseases.

A more robust effort on the part of the Government is critical in ensuring that the JADEP drugs are available to those Jamaicans who now, in their twilight years, are dependent on these medications to have a better quality of life. It bears thought that our state of wellness is closely linked to accessibility to affordable health care, as well as the consistency of prescription drugs. I urge the Government to look into this matter.