'Make primary health care a priority'
Some stakeholders are contending that if respectability is to return to the health sector, primary health care must get priority attention from the government in its 2016 Budget allocations.
"Primary health care must be treated as a priority as this will take a significant amount of the pressure off the services at the hospital, especially the accident and emergency department," said Calvin G. Brown, a former chairman of the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA). "Some of the cases that currently go to the hospital should be taken care at the community health centres."
Needs special attention
Like Brown, Dr Sonia Nixon, a former Emergency Room (ER) and psychiatry resident at the Cornwall Regional Hospital, in Montego Bay, is also batting for primary healthcare to get special attention. In fact, she thinks it should be mandatory that all initial medical contact take place at the various community health centres.
"It should be made mandatory for people to attend our community health centre for initial medical attention," said Nixon. "I believe the improvement of our primary health care system and its service delivery have to be the focus of our Government. There's a lack of confidence
in our community health care facilities, which drives people to our major hospitals, resulting in undue demand on our secondary health care providers."
In making reference to the 2015 health audit report, which, he said reflects a "stressed secondary level of care", social activist Dennis Meadows, who was recently drafted on the board of the WRHA, thinks focus should be placed on building a solid primary health care system.
"I believe the focus should be on building a primary care system that is affordable, accessible, addresses the fundamental needs of the entire community, while offering education to achieve changed behaviours, and mitigate the substance use, crime, and denial of medical conditions," said Meadows.