NHF, private pharmacies to partner this month
Beginning in mid-December, the National Health Fund (NHF) will be starting a pilot exercise involving private pharmacies to make drugs more easily accessible to beneficiaries under the programme.
Chairman of the NHF, Chris Zacca, said the fund has been given the task to cut the waiting time by beneficiaries for drugs. He told The Gleaner that the fund has been working hard to roll out a public-private partnership where the public sector-prescribed drugs could be obtained at private pharmacies.
Zacca disclosed that the pilot roll-out will take place in several pharmacies in the Cross Roads, Kingston, area as well as May Pen in Clarendon. He said the trial exercise would be linked to specific hospital and clinics in the areas mentioned.
The NHF assists Jamaicans in meeting the cost of prescriptions for specific chronic illnesses.
Zacca confirmed on Wednesday that the 100 per cent increase in subsidy on pharmaceuticals for NHF beneficiaries took effect in September as announced by Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton in his presentation to the Sectoral Debate, in July this year.
According to the NHF chairman, the board has been receiving positive feedback from the parents of the beneficiaries. "The feedback that we have got at the board is that it has gone very smoothly and is being seen as a positive move by our cardholders," he said.
Tufton had announced that effective September 1, some 11,000 NHF beneficiaries 18 years and under would have benefited from a 100 per cent increase in subsidy on pharmaceuticals covered under the programme.
The previous subsidy for the particular category of beneficiaries averages about 40 per cent and cost the NHF approximately $26 million annually.
The move to an average subsidy of 80 per cent is projected to cost the NHF in the region of $70 million annually.
"The impact of this on the 10,850 NHF beneficiaries in this age group is significant as it will reduce the out-of-pocket expenditure and assist in broadening access to vital medicines," Tufton had said in his presentation.