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Jamaicans to have increased access to diagnostic services

Published:Thursday | September 26, 2019 | 12:00 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer

Jamaicans needing diagnostic services will have other options besides public-health facilities come October.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has forged a partnership with 10 private radiology and diagnostic service providers across the island to complement hospital resources.

At the launch and signing ceremony for the Enhancing Healthcare Services Delivery Project, Technical Adviser Professor Archibald McDonald said that the partnership is not a short-term response.

“We are using the spare capacity in the private sector to enhance healthcare in the public sector. The project seeks to address three areas: shorten the waiting time for surgery, shorten the waiting time for investigations ... and we’ll also be working in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government to get the social cases out of hospital beds,” McDonald said.

McDonald added that it is intended that the public hospitals will learn lessons from their relations with the private sector about how to better operate their units.

According to Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton, it is estimated that some 60,000 Jamaicans will benefit.

This comes at a cost of more than $200 million to the Government,for the first year of the two-year programme.

Tufton said that negotiations had been done and the prices agreed on are below the existing market value.

“We are focusing on a few services now. Possibly, we will expand overtime. CT scans, MRI scans, ultrasounds, endoscopy and histopathology – those are the key services that form part of this agreement, and many public health facilities throughout Jamaica, at any point in time, will not be able to provide those services,” said Tufton.

The minister said that the programme is a part of offering quality access to healthcare for Jamaicans, as the country continues to make steady progress in human development indicators like infant mortality and life expectancy.

“The second and more sustainable long term initiative under this programme is to restore the credibility of our hospitals across the country by equipping them with diagnostic machines,” Tufton said.

When the two year period would have elapsed, some private providers would remain on board as a contingency.

Robert Nelson, general manager of Apex Radiology who spoke on behalf of the signing partners noted that there is an overwhelming demand for diagnostic services.

“Diagnostic imaging has become a pillar in medical is a critical tool in improving the wellness of this nation.” The non-invasive approaches have proven to be accurate and have provided the opportunity for early detection.

He added that the companies are prepared to grow with the ministry as they venture into innovations such as 3D ultrasounds and virtual colonoscopy.

Winchester MRI Limited, Imaging and Intervention Associates, Radiology West, Dynamic Imaging Associates, Island Radiology Services, St. Jago Ultrasound, Danhope Radiology, Kris Radiology and the University Hospital of the West Indies are the other signatories.