Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Kevin Harvey, says he expects a bigger budget for the Health Ministry this fiscal year.
His announcement of his expectation comes as there’re more complaints of shortages of critical medical supplies in hospitals, and their under-financing.
Dr. Harvey says his Ministry’s budget has remained stagnant for several years.
He says the Health Ministry has been lobbying for an increase in the funds allocated to the health sector.
He says they’ve detailed gaps in the sector, and expect these will be addressed in the upcoming budget.
Dr. Harvey says in the past, approximately 80-percent of the Health Ministry’s budget has gone to pay salaries for doctors, nurses and other health workers.
He says although the upcoming budget will be re-aligned to allow for more spending in other essential areas, he doesn’t expect any cuts in the budget for human resources.
He admits that there’re shortages of drugs in the public health system, even some on the Vital, Essential and Necessary, or VEN list.
Dr. Harvey says there needs to be a major shift in the way the country approaches health care.
One of the areas, he says, needs to be reexamined is how health care is funded.
He’s also suggesting that policy-makers take a look at other mechanisms, such as a national health insurance scheme.
According to Dr. Harvey, only about 15-percent of Jamaica’s population has private health insurance.
Finance Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips, will table the budget for the 2015/2016 budget on February 19.