Invest in health to boost productivity, urges doctor
President-elect of the Medical Association of Jamaica, Dr Shane Alexis, is urging Jamaicans, especially those in the private sector, to see health care as an investment, rather than a cost.
"If you invest in health care, you will have better results. Productivity will be one of them," he said.
Alexis said Jamaica spends US$392 per capita on health, while the average individual earns less than US$8,000 per year. Comparatively, in Trinidad and Tobago, the government spends US$1,400 on health per capita, while the average citizen's income is US$28,000. In Grenada, the health cost is US$700 per capita, with the average person making US$10,000 annually.
"Without having to do too many studies, it's easy to put forward the argument that (with) a healthier population, … we can be more productive," Alexis said. "If you have no one to run your factory, it doesn't matter how much money you spent building it."
FOCUS ON PUBLIC CARE
Alexis, who was speaking at the Rotary Club of Kingston's weekly luncheon at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel yesterday, narrowed his focus to public health care, as the seven private hospitals only account for three per cent of bed space.
He called for serious discussions and reforms in health-care funding.
"Currently, Jamaica spends about four per cent of its Budget on health. The international benchmark is 10 per cent," he said.
Alexis said the major challenges of the sector were lack of resources and overworked staff.