Tufton says leadership, cooperation vital to universal health care

Tufton says leadership, cooperation vital to universal health care

Friday, May 25, 2018

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MINISTER of Health Dr Christopher Tufton has called for greater leadership and cooperation at the regional and international levels, to enable countries, including Jamaica, to progress toward the provision of universal health care (UHC).

Jamaica's journey to UHC, the minister said, is evidenced by, among other things, a 10-year strategic plan for the health sector and a roadmap for a national health insurance plan.

“The strategic plan will build on our achievements in the area of primary health care, utilising the framework of Integrated Health Service Delivery Networks to create a robust health system based on primary care delivery,” Tufton is quoted as saying in a release from the Ministry of Health yesterday.

“With the current epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), we must also place more emphasis on prevention and health promotion through multi-sectoral partnerships and mainstreaming health in all policies. The Government of Jamaica continues to provide leadership in advocating behavioural modification, public education and moving towards regulation in order to address Jamaica's NCD epidemic,” he added.

At the same time, Tufton said the elimination of financial barriers, including at public health facilities, is a critical component of Jamaica's drive to provide UHC.

“We have taken steps to, for example, abolish user fees and provide protection for citizens living with NCDs through the creation of the National Health Fund and the Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme. These are not easy decisions. However, this must be done to achieve equity and protection,” he maintained.

The health minister, the release said, acknowledged that Jamaica cannot achieve its national development goal of a healthy and stable population on its own. It was against this background that he called for “greater leadership and coordination at the regional and international levels”.

Tufton stated that Jamaica anticipates the critical role to be played by the World Health Organization in providing greater technical support and best practices; building on existing foundations in areas, such as health systems, affordable patient-centred care, professionally trained hospital administrators, and quality community-based interventions.

The minister also called for technical assistance for strengthening health information systems and the health workforce, reiterating Jamaica's call made previously for urgent attention to the global shortage of health workers, in particular specialist nurses, the release said.

Tufton was addressing the 71st session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

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