Plans in place for abolition of hospital user fees in Jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica, March 31, 2008 – The Ministry of Health has received JA$100 million (US$1.4 million) to ensure that Jamaicans will be able to receive care at the island’s public health facilities from April 1 without having to pay user fees.


The date for the start-up of the initiative which will apply to all health care facilities except the University Hospital of the West Indies was recently announced by Governor General Sir Kenneth Hall in his Throne Speech.


So far JA$60 million (US$851,063) has been disbursed to the four regional health
authorities.


According to Minister of Health and Environment, Rudyard Spencer, the funds will be used to assist in the provision of immediate infrastructure needs, such as the upgrading and patient care areas, including additional chairs and the erection of tents where applicable.


“It will also be used in the transportation of some patients, staff and laboratory samples to and from health centres and hospitals for diagnostic and emergency purposes,” Mr Spencer also disclosed.


He added that JA$40 million (US$567,375) was earmarked for the purchase of small medical equipment and medical supplies, such as stethoscopes, examination lamps, nebulisers, mobile suction machines, wheelchairs, blood glucose testing machines and autoclaves.


“These are being purchased utilising the emergency procurement mechanism to ensure that the health facilities will have the supplies that are necessary to provide quality patient care,” the Minister said.