Dr Tufton welcomes Negril’s new Omega Medical Hospital
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says the global outbreak of the coronavirus, which significantly impacted Jamaica, has elevated the importance of forging public-private partnerships in the delivery of healthcare services to Jamaicans.
According to Tufton, while Jamaica and other countries are at the tail end of the deadly virus, which killed over six million people globally, including over 3,500 here in Jamaica, the pandemic has led to the forging of several key partnerships that has helped the health sector and the country in general, to recover stronger.
“I think one of the great lessons of COVID is that we have to approach our health and wellness as one health, one world policy and approach. That means there is no distinction between public health and private health,” said Dr Tufton, who was speaking last Friday in Westmoreland at the official opening of Negril’s first multimillion-dollar medical hospital, the Omega Medical Hospital.
“As humanity, we have to now come to terms as we recalibrate in this post-COVID environment, how we configure relationships, whether relationships between individuals, entities or organisations,” he added.
Tufton further noted that the COVID-19 virus was no respecter of the economy or social status, whether at the level of community, country, or individuals. He said that despite the turbulence in the sector during the height of the pandemic, Jamaica was able to manage better than many other countries with far more resources, including depending on persons who they never thought they needed to overcome.
In highlighting the importance of the public/private partnership in strengthening the local health sector, Tufton said the Omega Medical Hospital, a private facility established by Dr Dale Foster and his Barbadian wife, Dr Sonja King Foster, is one such example.
“So today in Negril, I applaud and celebrate with the Fosters and team this effort, quite tangible so, obviously requiring a lot of resources and risk-taking to establish a facility that can serve this community,” he said.
Tufton stated that the provision of healthcare facilities and services is critical to saving lives and ensuring that those in need of care can easily have access, especially in a growing population.
The US$2.7 million 14-bed Omega Medical Hospital is equipped with a state-of-the-art operating theatre, a radiology department, an X-ray department, a laboratory, and a pharmacy. It is able to provide primary to tertiary-level healthcare services to communities in and around Negril.
Tufton used the opportunity to state that the public health sector is being burdened by the large number of persons it is responding to with the limited resources at its disposal.
“We see in public health, about three million visits per year, between primary and secondary healthcare, and I would love if a number of private entities could take some of that visit from me because it would reduce my weight,” said Tufton. “Such a move would go a far way in reducing the challenges the sector is confronted with in terms of its limited resources, especially as it relates to the fact that the country has not built out its public health infrastructure in any significant way over the past 25 years.”