Health ministry refocuses on security at local facilities
Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
The Ministry of Health is to unveil critical security measures in another two weeks to address safety concerns in public-health facilities across the island.
Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson said yesterday that he was concerned about the breakdown in security and so he would be addressing the issue in short order.
Ferguson argued that the ministry was at present fine-tuning plans to address the issue and those plans would be released to the public soon.
"We are presently pursuing a particular path to address security issues. When I was opposition spokesman on health, I raised a lot of concerns about security and I want to make a statement in another two weeks in that regard," he told The Gleaner after the launch of Heart Month at the Guardian Life Building on Trafalgar Road in St Andrew yesterday.
However, the minister said he was not prepared to disclose the details until the plans are completed.
But that is not the only deficiency that the minister said he has high on his agenda for attention as he is also looking at the critical shortages of equipment, which has been affecting patient care in the public-health system.
"We have a shortage of equipment across the country. It is a matter that we are going to be approaching in relation to the National Health Fund, in relation to whether we would need to divest of certain diagnostic functions in our hospitals and, where possible, where private-public partnership can make a difference in the way forward," he added.
With primary health care the point of focus for the new administration, Ferguson said the more than 300 clinics in the island would be given attention so as to ease the pressure on the hospitals.
"Preventative health care takes place at the primary level. Once we get the primary level going, it will ease the pressure on our hospitals," he said.
"We know that there is work to be done and it has started in the past administration in terms of repair to centres and we will continue to do that but, in terms of other centres, we are looking over the medium term to improve the diagnostic capability at the primary health-care centres."
Ferguson said: "We believe for each dollar spent, it is much cheaper at the primary level versus the secondary level."
The health minister said the Government has made three fundamental commitments that would respond to the challenges of non-communicable diseases. These include placing a strategic focus on primary health care, advancing anti-smoking legislation in keeping with Jamaica's obligations under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and strengthening multi-sectoral participation to promote health education and health literacy.
According to the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey 2008, 25 per cent of Jamaicans have hypertension, eight per cent have diabetes mellitus, 12 per cent have high cholesterol levels and 65 per cent of women and 38 per cent of men are overweight or obese. Approximately 12,000 people are estimated to having suffered a heart attack while 25,000 people have had a stroke.