Minister Says Government Making Strides to Deal with Health Challenges


Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says the Government is making strides in advancing its infrastructural readiness to cope with the challenges of the health profile of the population.

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of High Dependency Units (HDUs) at the St. Ann’s Bay Hospital on May 17, Dr. Tufton said there are plans to ensure that over the next three to five years, the necessary resources are in place to build out and expand the critical-care institutions across the island.

Dr. Tufton says the breaking of ground for the HDUs represents a great start for the other critical-care institutions.

“I think we are on the right track, and, indeed, from a government policy perspective, over the past year or so we have articulated and seen the need for expanded infrastructure. We are doing it in a very holistic way, so it is not an isolated institution,” he said.

“It’s an attempt at looking at the full spectrum of hospital services and infrastructure, and developing a range of specialisation that will see us as a country being able to respond more readily and efficiently to the needs of our population,” the Minister added.

The facility, being funded by the European Union (EU) at a cost of $230 million under the Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC), will include a neonatal HDU, which will include eight beds and two neonatal isolation suites and a maternal HDU, which will include five beds, and maternal isolation suites.

They will be equipped with highly specialised radiographic technology, digital computerised radiographic imaging systems, critical-care ventilators and specialised patient-monitoring equipment.

Dr. Tufton said the infrastructure will only become important and effective when people support and utilise the facilities in the right way. In this regard, he highlighted that there is still work to be done in sensitising Jamaicans about the importance of managing their own behaviours in the interest of their own personal health and their unborn child.

“Given that we have a solution with the help of the EU and others, in terms of the required infrastructure, we have to now get to a point where we develop a series of policies and programmes to change behaviour,” he said.

The Minister lauded the EU for their efforts and resources in assisting to develop the Jamaican health sector.

“We value the partnership, we see tremendous opportunities in improving our infrastructure and it’s always a work in progress, so we will now have to ensure that with your support, we provide the leadership and guidance to expand and extend the benefits to the people that we serve,” he said.

PROMAC is aimed at reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. Under the project, a total of nine HDUs will be established at the Victoria Jubilee, Cornwall Regional, Spanish Town and St. Ann’s Bay hospitals and the Bustamante Hospital for Children.



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