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Ferguson points to vast savings in health from medical missions

Health Minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson Health Minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson
MONTEGO BAY,  Jamaica , Junr 4, 2015 - Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson continues to highlight the importance and value of  overseas medical missions in complementing the national health services.“There is gap in our budget, there is always gap in our service and this is why medical missions have become so important.”

Addressing members of a group of volunteers from the Caribbean Health Outreach Inc. in Hanover recently, Dr Ferguson said 172 medical missions visited Jamaica in 2012 and “on pharmaceutical alone we saved in the region of US$570,000.” In 2013 there were 197 medical missions “again saving the country US$990,000” and last year there were 182 missions.

He noted that the saving to the government was phenomenal as the figures he quoted did not take into consideration what it would cost to pay the calibre of persons who come on these missions, often at their own expense, and give their professional services free of cost.

So far this year, “we are going very well; we have had some big missions visiting,” he noted. These include a Chinese mission which did some 200 cataract surgeries “at tremendous cost given the complexity of that surgery.”

The Health Minister said a memorandum of understanding is soon to be signed with the Chinese government for continued assistance.

In the area of dentistry, Dr Ferguson also noted, “Jamaica is about to see our first cohort of dentists being trained locally coming out this year and we’re very happy because that will help to bring the ratio down from one dentist to 17,000 persons.”

Dr Ferguson further stated, “One of the big things that we have been able to do in relation to dentistry is that we have been recognized by the American Dental Examination Council (ADEX) and the North East Regional Board (NERB).”

He disclosed that Jamaica had become the first country outside of the United States to be a part of the Board of ADEX and NERB, which, he said, “means that when our dentists complete their training, once they have passed that Board, they will be able to work in certain States within the United States. So very soon we will be looking toward training for export even as we are training to satisfy the local market.”

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