Local health sector to receive support from India

Saturday, February 09, 2019

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A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is being finalised between Jamaica and India to upgrade the quality and scope of resources in health care, medical education and training, and research in both countries.

Specifically, the agreement will result in the exchange and training of medical doctors, nurses, and other health professionals.

It will also facilitate the setting up of health care facilities and initiatives for the prevention and control of common non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular conditions and stroke.

Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith said the MOU arose following talks between herself and India's Minister of Health and Family Welfare Jagat Prakash Nadda, in 2017.

“Our discussions included exploring different ways to pursue bilateral cooperation in addressing our respective health challenges,” she said, noting that the agreement will be finalised in short order.

Johnson Smith was speaking at a ceremony for the handover of medications from India to the Government of Jamaica at the ministry's New Kingston offices on Thursday.

The medications, valued at US$150,000, will be distributed through the National Health Fund and its network of Drug Serv Pharmacies, and will assist persons who suffer from cancer, hypertension and diabetes, among other conditions.

Minister Johnson Smith thanked the Indian Government for the donation.

“A country's greatest resources are its people, and ensuring the health and well-being of our people is central to achieving sustainable development as a nation. Both the governments of India and Jamaica share this understanding,” she said.

In his remarks, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said the medications will bolster the existing stock from the “curative perspective, as we continue the fight against non-communicable diseases”.

He expressed gratitude for the support given to Jamaica's health sector and welcomed the impending MOU, which he said will benefit both countries and advance relations.

India's pharmaceutical industry is said to be on a good growth path and is likely to be in the top 10 global markets in value terms by 2020.

Indian High Commissioner to Jamaica Sevala Naik, for his part, said that his country has been recognised globally for high-quality medicines at affordable prices.

“Today, India has a market value of about US$30-billion turnover, which is about 50 per cent consumption within the country and 50 per cent exports,” he said.

Further, Naik noted that India has 10 per cent of the bulk drugs market and is ranked third globally in terms of the volume of drugs it produces for export.

“India is also becoming a regional power in terms of the manufacturing of medical equipment... and has invested heavily in research and development, setting up research labs. India also uses traditional medicines — called ayurvedic homeopathy, unani and yoga, which are very popular,” he noted.

Naik said that the medications provided will benefit Jamaicans, and that his Government “hopes to continue in partnership to hand over more to the people of Jamaica”.


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