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Free health care could pose challenge to development - IDB

Published:Saturday | May 20, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Donna Harris

The PROBLEMS plaguing Jamaica's health sector, especially with free access to public services and treatment, are among several gaps being looked at by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) as it develops its 10-year strategic plan.

Commenting on some of the challenges facing the sector, Donna Harris, social-protection senior specialist at the IDB, told The Gleaner that she believes a concerted effort has to be made to fix the issues.

"In developing countries, where there are financial constraints and competing development priorities, free health care for all can be a significant challenge," she said.

"This is a contextual and situational issue, and free health care for all can sometimes threaten the delivery of sustained quality care. In some countries, we have supported a health system model which targets those who can afford to pay to improve access for the poor," she continued.




Harris indicated that a robust effort would be made to assist with improving lives in Jamaica, specifically in relation to access and delivery of services.

She also emphasised that a major priority would be a focus on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which, according to her, present a significant threat to productivity, growth, and overall progress in Jamaica and the Caribbean region.

"There are a number of gaps in access and delivery of quality care in Jamaica and the region. From a value-for-money perspective, the IDB has prioritised its interventions in Jamaica and the Caribbean on key strategic issues that are likely to have the biggest impact. NCDs are the leading cause of mortality and morbidity, accounting for the largest number of hospital discharges," she reasoned.