Sectoral Debate Speech – Health Care, A Paradigm Shift by Dr. the Hon Christopher Tufton – May 2 2017

A Summary of Highlights of Key Initiatives

Mr. Speaker, given the structure and time allotted for these sectoral debates, I cannot possibly speak to all the matters concerning public health. I have therefore tabled a report with details on what I consider important areas on which the public should be updated. This report also acts as a scorecard of commitments made and kept by the administration in this portfolio area.

Please allow me to briefly referto some of the highlights in thisAnnual Report;

  • In the area of health prevention we launched the Jamaica Moves campaign to promote increased physical activity along with proper nutrition as a preventative measure against Non Communicable Diseases, NCDs;
  • As we continue to tackle NCDs, we now have in hand the report from the National Food Task Force with recommendations that will be actioned including national consultations, starting this year;
  • We have completed the report on mental illness and homelessness and are now developing a working programme to tackle this major public health challenge in our country;
  • The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has completed a comprehensive report on Health Information Systems and are now developing a schedule for implementation which we hope to begin this calendar year;
  • Our Adopt-A-Clinic Programme has been developed and we are now engaged in robust negotiations with local and Diaspora interests for approximately 60 clinics to be adopted;
  • Our public private partnership for Drug Serv windows has seen 17 private pharmacies now dispensing drugs against prescriptions written for public health patients and to date over 7000 prescriptions have been filled, reducing the need to wait for hours in some cases to get prescribed drugs.
  • In the area of Oral Health, we launched our National Dental Sealant and Fluoride Garnish Programme in schools, resuming what was abandoned about 20 years ago, an important initiative to improve good oral hygiene in our population;
  • We have launched a Mosquito Control and Research Unit, a collaboration between our Vector Control Unit at the MOH and the University of the West Indies through their departments of Nuclear Sciences and Tropical Medicine. This collaborative effort will focus on applied research to tackle the continued threat of mosquito borne diseases that are a serious public health challenge. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will fund the engagement of an Entomologist for one year to head up this entity;
  • On the issue of the medical marijuana industry, we have provided an update on the role of the MOH and indicated our intention to launch a public education campaign this year targeting vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant mothers and motorists.


Mr. Speaker, these and other important public health issues and achievements by this administration over the last year are addressed in the report tabled in this House today. I ask my colleagues and the media to review and update themselves accordingly. Over time we will elaborate further on these issues however, we are open to any discussions needed.

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