Opposition spokesman on health Dr Dayton Campbell has called for a 10-year plan to facilitate a significant increase in the health sector budget, adding that the increase would help alleviate some of the chronic failures that result especially in rural patients being left to die.
He claimed that many people who have died in rural Jamaica would perhaps be alive today if they were living in Kingston.
“I am of the view that quite a bit of persons who die in rural Jamaica may not have died if they were in Kingston. I am also of the view that quite a lot of persons who die in Kingston would not have died if they were in Miami,” Dr Campbell said.
He outlined scenarios in which rural people on the island die due to unavailability of equipment such as a CT scan machine and intensive care unit beds.
Highlighting the shortage of CT scan machines, for example, Dr Campbell explained: “What happens in rural Jamaica for the vast majority of persons [suffering from a stroke] is that they have to lay down in that bed [and], if they recover, they recover. If they don’t, then they just don’t recover. This is unacceptable for us to continue operating like this as a country.”
Dr Campbell, during his sectoral presentation in parliament, said most rural parliamentarians are aware of the challenges being faced.
“If we remove the green or whatever lens and look at the issue objectively, all of us would agree that this is the reality for majority of the persons in rural Jamaica,” he posited. “There is a lot of work to be done and, if the government wants to complain and play the blame game, then they can get out of the way and give us the work to do, because we will do the work.”
Dr Campbell, who indicated that the underlying problem is inadequate funding of the health sector, further reasoned: “There must be a plan to increase the budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Health. There has to be, and I am quite sure the Minister [of Health Dr Christopher Tufton] agrees with that, because the sector is currently underfunded.
“We, as a country, must sit down and develop a 10-year plan with a view to increasing substantially the allocation to the Ministry of Health,” added the opposition spokesman.
Meanwhile, for this fiscal year, the government allocated $64 billion to the Ministry of Health for recurrent expenses and $2.16 billion for capital projects. Last fiscal year, the allocation to the ministry was $61.9 billion for recurrent expenses and $1.86 billion for capital projects.