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Cancer patients in Jamaica soon to benefit from free cancer care

Featured Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, making his presentation in the 2015/16 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on May 5. Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, making his presentation in the 2015/16 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on May 5.
KINGSTON, May 6, 2015 - Health Minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson says Cancer patients in Jamaica will soon be able to benefit from free radiation treatment in the public health sector.

The Health Minister told the House of Representatives during his contribution to the annual Sectoral Debate in the House of  Representatives on Tuesday afternoon, that the government will be purchasing two state of the art Linear Accelerator machines for use in cancer treatment, with a contract having been signed on Tuesday morning to procure the machines at a cost of more than US$14 million.  

The machines will be located that the Cornwall Regional Hospital and the Kingston Public Hospital.

The Health Minister also announced that the government had entered into an agreement with a private service provider, Radiation Oncology Centre of Jamaica "to provide radiation treatment to cancer patients, at no cost to them," he declared.

Minister Ferguson also told Parliament that the Jamaican Government was considering the introduction of a vaccine to reduce the prevalence of cancer of the cervix. Located in the neck of the womb, cancer of the cervix is primarily caused by the presence of  the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

The Minister said Government had started implementing the National Health Information and E-Health Strategy, ahead of the pilot phase of the Electronic Patient Administration System (e-PAS), geared at linking patients’ records to all medical facilities.

Since October 2014, implementation of the system at the Santa Cruz and Darliston Centres of Excellence has resulted in 13,000 records being created.

“Each patient will have a single electronic health record with a unique Universal Person Identifier. If you walk into Santa Cruz, your data will be electronically captured, and if you go to Darliston, all your information would be readily available,” the Minister said.

“We will eventually link all our facilities, so that we can have continuity of care and easily accessible patient records for more efficient and effective service,” the Minister added, noting that some $30 million is earmarked from the National Health Fund (NHF), to complete implementation of the system at health facilities in St. Elizabeth.

He said work on the design of the system network is completed, and with support from e-Gov Jamaica, the Universal Service Fund (USF) commissioned connectivity points at 59 of 60 points, through a $26 million grant from the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining.

The Minister told the House that the Government will be restructuring health services, due to a major shift in population, with more urbanization; growth in the elderly group, and shifts in poverty levels, as well as the burden of diseases affecting the health sector.

“Through Cabinet approval, we are moving forward with the Renewal of Primary Health Care policy, to help realign the primary health care network and infrastructure to address the population shift,” he outlined.

Through support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Government has completed a comprehensive review of the burden of illnesses, estimates and analysis of major issues affecting the health sector, “and this year we will begin the process of designing a 10-year development plan for the sector, to ensure realignment with shifts in population and disease burden.”

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