Mr. Speaker, as I did last year, I have tabled a Ministry Paper with details of major programmes pursued by the ministry over the past year as well as the latest edition of Vitals, our now semiannual publication of important statistics for the public health sector.
These two documents are intended to provide a transparent account of how we have conducted the affairs of the people of Jamaica and we are open to scrutiny, constructive criticism, and indeed, commendations if you or the public think we are deserving.
We don’t claim to have all the answers so we welcome partnerships and any suggestions that can improve the state of the public health sector.
Mr. Speaker, highlights of 2017-18 include:
Reduced Waiting Time Initiative
Our Reduced Waiting Time Initiative was successfully implemented in seven hospitals and eight health centres in year one. The extended hours in the eight (8) health centres have resulted in a 41% increase in visits, with about 20% of overall visits during the extended hours. This year, we will be expanding the initiative to four (4) additional hospitals and four (4) health centres, moving the total of participating health facilities to 23.
Compassionate Care Programme
Our Compassionate Care Programme was launched on March 27, 2018, to enhance care and services delivered
at the point of care in our health facilities. The Victoria Jubilee Hospital Outpatient Antenatal Clinic was upgraded and is now fully refurbished with sectionalized assessment booths to allow for privacy while patients are being assessed and counseled. The environment now promotes positive health behaviour through the various health messages. We have also developed the Compassionate Care and Volunteer Policy to provide guidelines to institutionalize the volunteerism programme in the public health care system.
National Cancer Treatment Centre
We opened our first National Cancer Treatment Centre at Cornwall Regional Hospital in November 2017 and treatment of patients has been ongoing since. All infrastructure work on the National Cancer Treatment Centre at St. Joseph’s Hospital has been completed and all major equipment has been installed and commissioned. Training of staff from the Kingston Public Hospital has commenced and is ongoing. Treatment of patients at the St. Joseph’s Hospital Cancer Treatment Centre began in March 2018.
Cardiac Unit at the Bustamante Hospital for Children
We have completed phase one of the Cardiac Unit at the Bustamante Hospital for Children in November 2017. This phase of the project saw the completion of the operating theatre, intensive care unit (ICU), isolation area and supporting administrative areas. The first surgery was completed on November 28, 2017. Up to May 27, 2018, 37 open heart surgeries were done by local and international teams. Phase Two of the Cardiac Unit project involves the completion of the catheterization lab. All pre-requisite works for its installation are underway and the Catheterization Lab is expected to be operational by the end of the second quarter of the financial year. The estimated cost of the project is over $104 million.
Public-Private Partnerships – Pharmacy Programme
There is a huge demand for pharmacy services in the public health sector. Annually, approximately 2.2 million prescriptions are generated and in order to provide a satisfactory service to our patients, the public-private partnership (PPP) pharmacy programme was established with the National Health Fund and selected private pharmacies. Under this
programme the filling of prescriptions for public patients is outsourced to selected private pharmacies. Seventeen (17) pharmacies participated in the pilot programme in 2016 and up to March 2018, the partner pharmacies have filled 72,301 prescriptions. This year, this partnership for pharmacy services for public patients will see an addition of 35 pharmacies to be spread across the island. Contracts for the expansion of these services have now been signed bringing the total number of PPP pharmacies to 52.