Vitals – A Quarterly Report from the Ministry of Health (October 2017)

Welcome back to Vitals: A Quarterly Statistical Report of the Ministry of Health. Vitals provides information on health trends and health statistics in Jamaica.

This, our second issue, is a continued demonstration of our commitment to good governance as we model transparency in reporting on patient outcomes and the feedback on clients’ experiences and their level of customer satisfaction with the services provided. The data, over time, will demonstrate our commitment to improving our services, providing redress, and further, to allow our clients to hold us accountable.

This publication presents a special feature on surgeries performed in public hospitals for the reference period, January to March 2017. Of significant note is the fact that some 40% of surgical operations performed represent emergency surgeries, many of which are related to trauma resulting from vehicle crashes, stabbing and gunshot wounds. The high cost associated with treatment of trauma patients and the implications of delays or cancellation for patients awaiting elective surgery make the issue of violence and trauma a public health priority for the Ministry, for which a multi-sectoral approach is indicated. The number of private surgeries performed in public hospitals is being monitored for compliance with the Private Practice Privilege policy which makes allowance for consultant surgeons employed to the Ministry to perform 1 private case for every 3 public cases performed. The proportion of surgeries done privately in each of the reporting hospitals was in-keeping with the 25% permitted.

Readers will find the 22% percent reduction in live births (compared to similar period in 2016) an interesting observation, particularly when viewed against the background of the Zika outbreak and the encouragement to families to delay pregnancies.

The report makes for more than informative reading; it gives insight into the magnitude of service demand in relation to the resources available; for example, in some instances, the admissions exceed the bed complement. Such data justifies the strategic direction being taken by the Ministry towards expanding the infrastructure while promoting the more sustainable and cost-effective approach of disease prevention. We commend the efforts of those who have compiled and presented this excellent report which supports the evidence-based approach to our dialogues with stakeholders, and to our planning as a Ministry.

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