KINGSTON, Jamaica: The government plans to introduce a health card which, says Health Minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson, would allow easy access to specific medication at no cost.
Dr. Ferguson said that people with prescriptions from public health facilities would be able to obtain items on the Vital, Essential and Necessary (VEN) list, a move aimed at improving healthcare services to Jamaicans.
He said the card would state whether its holder has health insurance, thereby improving the mechanism to bill private health insurance providers.
The service is expected to be available at public sector and selected private sector pharmacies throughout the island.
Ferguson explained that while the administration is not completely opposed to the abolition of user fees, “the principle that we are observing is that, those who can, should pay. The ministry must develop an effective mechanism to assess people’s ability to pay.
“I want to make one thing abundantly clear. This government supports the removal of user fees from social services for certain segments of the population. In 2007, we introduced free health care for children,” he said.
The health minister said that he was looking forward to working with health workers, as he seeks to restore public trust and confidence in the system.
“I ask for your support in executing the policy directives of the government of the day,” he said to health care workers at a recent retreat.
“That is your job as public servants. If we make bad policies, the public will punish the policy makers, but no government can achieve success without an effective and efficient public sector,” he said.