Month: April 2015

Ministry of Health and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) lead High Level Consultations on Universal Access to Health and Universal Health Coverage

Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson is paving the way for Universal Access to Health and Universal Health Coverage in Jamaica through High Level Consultations. Dr. Ferguson met with colleague Ministers, Hon. Derrick Kellier, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Agriculture and Fisheries; Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, Minister of Education; Sen. the Hon. Mark Golding, Minister of Justice; Hon. Horace Dalley, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance & Planning and the Opposition Spokesperson on Health & Healthy Lifestyles, Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte, to share perspectives on closing the gaps to Universal Access to Health and Universal Health Coverage. This was a lead up activity to the two day High Level Dialogue with key stakeholders that begun yesterday, April 29, 2015 at the Jamaica Conference Centre, Down Town, Kingston.

In the Minister’s opening remarks, at the High Level Dialogue, he made reference to the interministerial meeting. “I am pleased to report that the outcome was positive as we left on common grounds with a commitment across Ministries and political lines to the broad principles of advancing UA/UHC as well as a recognition of the role that each person and entity have to play.”

The Health Minister pointed out that Jamaica had been focusing on achieving Universal Health Coverage and Universal Access to Health for its citizens for a number of years. “Jamaica can proudly state that although globally there has been a renewed focus to UA/UHC, we have never lost focus.”

Dr. Ferguson went on to highlight some of Jamaica’s successes towards achieving Universal Access to Health and Universal Health coverage which included  Primary Health  Care Infrastructure Renewal to provide quality health services and increase access at the community level; the policy of no user fees which is an important step in removing a barrier to access; the establishment of the National Health Fund to provide financial protection to citizens living with chronic diseases and the nine health financing consultations which were held to seek practical and sustainable ways of financing health care to further reduce out of pocket expense for citizens.

Dr. Ferguson was careful to note that while Jamaica had many achievements “there is considerably much more work to do especially because out of pocket payments is at 30% of total health expenditure and this is unacceptable.”  He referred to UA/UHC as a continuum in which we must constantly put measures in place to have as the UN resolution on UA/UHC states, a “comprehensive, appropriate and timely, quality health service as well as access to safe, effective and affordable quality medicines, while ensuring that the use of such services does not expose users to financial difficulties, especially groups in conditions of vulnerability.”

A seven member Mission team from PAHO and a CARICOM representative are in Jamaica to provide technical support to the Ministry of Health as they facilitate discussions on this very important topic. The main goal of the High Level consultations is to mobilize support for UA/UHC and provide the groundwork needed to develop a road map to achieving Universal Access to Health and Universal Health Coverage in Jamaica. Over 80 persons representing private and public sector, civil society and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) were in attendance at the High Level Dialogue which continues today.