Multibillion-dollar infrastructure improvement for public health sector

The public health system is to be provided with upgraded or otherwise new health facilities to the tune of more than US$200 million (J$26 billion) over the next five years.

“We are playing catch up since we have not seen any major overhaul of public health in decades. We have heard the people’s cry and we are responding with a plan and the resources to add beds, operating theatres, diagnostic services, and more,” Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton told Parliament in his 2019 Sectoral Presentation on May 7.

“I am happy to announce that over the next five years, extraordinary capital expenditure on public health infrastructure will be between US$205.7 and US$ 236.2 Million (J$27.2 and $J31.2 Billion). This is the largest commitment by a Government in public health infrastructure in over 20 years,” the Minister revealed.

Among the facilities that are to be upgraded is the Cornwall Regional Hospital. That facility, which is being upgraded to the tune of J$3.5 billion, is to benefit more than 400,000 residents of the western health region.

Five other hospitals are also to be upgraded, including the Spanish Town Hospital, the Kingston Public Hospital, the May Pen Hospital, and the St Ann’s Bay Hospital.

These are in addition to nine public health centres, among them the Old Harbour Health Centre (J$489.7 million); the Greater Portmore Health Centre (J$344.1 million); and the St Jago Health Centre (J$317.7 million).

“This is action, not just talk. We have a plan and we have financing for the plan,” Tufton said.

New build include the US$43 Million (J$5.7 Billion) Western Child and Adolescent Hospital, a 220-bed, seven-floor facility that offer a 60-room resident facility for health professionals employed in western Jamaica.

The cardiac care services at Bustamante Hospital for Children are also to be expanded to see the addition of 20 beds, to the tune of J$166 million.

“All of this has been made possible, in part thanks to the financing agreement valued at US$100 million with the Inter-American Development Bank to support public health. US$50 Million or J$6.2 billion of that sum is being used to respond to the critical infrastructure needs in the areas of hospital beds, health centre upgrades, and the implementation of health information systems,” Tufton noted.

This is in addition to the development of a more sophisticated digital technology for healthcare, which includes the creation of integrated information systems for health, notably an electronic health records system, and the expansion of telehealth services in three health regions.