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55 clinics 'adopted' through health ministry initiative

Deandra Morrison
Online reporter
morrisond@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, November 09, 2017

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FIFTY-FIVE clinics across the island have been adopted by stakeholders through the Ministry of Health's 'Adopt-a-Clinic' initiative, which was officially launched at the St Jago Park Health Centre in Spanish Town, St Catherine, on Tuesday.

The ministry said that of the clinics being supported, Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) has committed to adopting 15 of them. The others will be adopted by members of the Diaspora.

Earlier this year, Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton said that of the 320 clinics in Jamaica, 100 have been identified as critically in need of assistance.

He had said that although the Government has allocated a budget to the country's health care, “facilities are sometimes less than adequately resourced”.

As such the ministry, through the 'Adopt-a-Clinic' initiative, is soliciting and partnering with local and international entities and individuals to assist with some of the basic and critical needs of the facilities.

Tufton said that adopting a clinic could cost stakeholders about $1.2 to $1.5 million per year.

“It is not a call for any major construction involving these facilities, but rather an attempt at ensuring that these facilities have routine maintenance services and therefore maintain their credibility in the communities that they serve,” Tufton said.

Tuesday's launch also facilitated a panel discussion where stakeholders raised questions about the initiative as well as made suggestions.

Executive Director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) Dr Carey Wallace recommended that with the growing phenomenon Airbnb, there may also be room to accommodate “voluntourism” — where tourists come and donate to the country — in the 'Adopt-a-Clinic' programme.

He was also concerned about the difficulty interested stakeholders might have with getting equipment and other materials for clinics through Jamaica Customs Agency.

In response, Tufton said the initiatives' pitch will also target non-Jamaicans who wish to participate.

In relation to a possible issue with Customs, which the minister referred to as a “bureaucratic red tape”, he said there is a system in place to provide support for any issue. However, the minister also noted that the system is a work in progress.

“Sometimes when we get the call for assistance is when the stuff is actually at the wharf and, ideally, there is a process of notification for instructions to be given as [to] how things should be shipped and for what can be shipped,” he said.

Tufton admitted that the ministry will have to take up the mantle of providing information to individuals who wish to ship items to Jamaica for donation.

Meanwhile, Sandals Foundation Executive Director Heidi Clarke, who was also at the launch, said the resort group is “definitely on board” with the ministry's initiative and would like to see further development of the primary health care sector through corporate social responsibility.

On Tuesday, Tufton said 1.5 million Jamaicans visited health centres last year. However, he believes that, “ideally, we should have over two million persons visiting our primary health care facilities”.

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Dr Winston De La Haye cited that 60 per cent of the 1.5 million that were seen at the clinics and health centres were seeking curative treatment.

“Meaning they were already ill with uncontrollable hypertension, uncontrollable diabetes and being managed for that,” he explained.

He added that the healthy authority would like to avoid this by utilising primary health care as a preventative measure along with healthy lifestyle changes in order to reduce non-communicable diseases.

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