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Back-to-school prep for children with chronic illness

Sunday, September 02, 2018

THROUGHOUT childhood, many have the tendency to develop minor illnesses and viral infections which usually pass with time and careful treatment.

For the more than 14,000 children registered with the National Health Fund (NHF) for subsidies related to 13 different chronic illnesses, however, that is not the case.

A chronic disease can be defined as a long-lasting condition that can usually be controlled — but not cured.

As part of its mandate to help all Jamaicans access medication in both the public and private health sectors, the National Health Fund said in a release that through the NHF card, it provides subsidies for the treatment of 16 chronic illnesses. For children, the subsidy is doubled to cover the list of prescription drugs, respiratory devices and diabetic supplies on the NHF Card programme.

Presently the major chronic illnesses affecting Jamaica's children include asthma, epilepsy, sickle-cell, and diabetes, 12,000 of which are registered with the NHF, the release said.

NHF said caring for a child who has been diagnosed with a chronic illness can be worrisome, especially when he or she is at school for eight hours a day.

Thus, parents and guardians are encouraged to consider the following tips in preparing their children to go back to school.

1. Financial assistance for purchasing select medication is available if your child suffers from any of the 16 chronic illnesses that are covered under the NHF card. These include asthma, epilepsy, sickle-cell, diabetes, arthritis, psychosis, glaucoma, vascular disease, major depression, hypertension, rheumatic fever/heart disease, high cholesterol, and ischaemic heart disease, the release said.

To apply, begin by filling out the application form which should include the child's tax registration number. Forms should be signed by a medical doctor to certify that he or she has been diagnosed with the specific chronic condition, NHF said. Once the form has been completed, it can be submitted to any of NHF's Same Day Card Centres for processing, which is usually done within 15 minutes, the release said.

NHF said its application forms can be found at several locations islandwide, including hospitals, health clinics, pharmacies, or the NHF's head office in Kingston, as well as the Help Desk outstations and Drug Serv pharmacies.

2. Speak with the teachers at your child's school and explain the condition he/she suffers, as well as the medication and dosage the child is to get if he/she falls ill at school.

3. Ensure that your child's medication is clearly labelled and packed with school supplies.