The Government of Jamaica (GOJ) Health Card, aimed at improving the accessibility of medication for persons, who receive care at public-health facilities, should be available in the next three months.
Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, made the disclosure as he addressed a workshop to present and discuss the Ministry’s biennial work plan and its collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), held on August 8 at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston.
The GOJ Health Card will allow persons with prescriptions from public-health facilities, easy access to medication at no cost, for items that are on the vital, essential and necessary list. The service is expected to be available at public-sector and selected private-sector pharmacies island-wide.
The card would also improve the mechanism to bill private health insurance providers, as it will state whether or not the individual has health insurance.
Dr. Ferguson informed that PAHO has been asked to provide technical assistance with the implementation of the card.
“(They will provide) experts in the area to look at what is it that you want to capture in a card because right now there is a lot of waste and the question of tracing patients… that card will give you a unique identity that will allow for that kind of thing,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ferguson said that the Government will be looking to secure funding for the National HIV Programme.
Treatment for HIV-positive persons is mainly covered through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, but that is expected to come to an end in July 2013.
A recent World Bank Sustainability Study predicts that an estimated US$3.2 billion will be required over the next 18 years to maintain the HIV prevalence at the current low level of 1.7 per cent.
“We believe it’s very important, in going forward, to protect the gains over the last decade. We asked for help and there is a strategic fund that PAHO now operates and it is our view that if we were to go that route, then by virtue of the economy of scale, we would be able to get better prices, and we would have the support in terms of technical assistance going forward,” he stated.
PAHO/ World Health Organisation Representative in Jamaica, Margareta Skőld, noted that the biennial plan that will be presented and discussed has been developed in line with several guiding documents and plans, including the overall vision outlined in the long-term health agenda for the Americas, and the PAHO country cooperation strategy for Jamaica.
“It also takes into consideration, national priorities that were discussed during our last work plan meeting in November and priorities that are reflected in documents or statements that have since been developed at a country level or by the region,” Miss Skőld informed.
She added that the work plan should be a practical tool to bring about change, make a difference when implemented “and help us move closer, collectively, to the vision of health and wealth being for all in Jamaica."