KINGSTON, Jamaica CMC — An audit of the four regional health authorities here has revealed critical gaps in the island’s public health system.
Health Minister, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, outlined the findings at a press conference on Wednesday.
According to the report, some shortfalls include inadequately maintained systems and infrastructure for infection prevention and control in some facilities; stock management challenges and a shortage of medical equipment.
The report also pointed to a shortage in protective supplies such as plastic aprons.
Most of the findings are consistent with the concerns raised earlier this year by the Jamaica Medical Doctors’ Association.
The concerns about the state of hospitals and the conditions under which staff had to work triggered the audit.
In response to the audit, the Ministry of Health says plans are in place to deal with the areas of concern.
Chief Medical Officer in the Minister, Dr. Marion Bullock Ducasse, said one solution being pursued is the securing of more employees for specific functions, to address the needs of patients.
Bullock Ducasse, told RJR that the Health Ministry recently signed a number of contracts for pharmaceuticals.
She added that some of the Regional Health Authorities have had their budgets increased to allow them to procure supplies that are running low, instead of waiting for the monthly orders to be delivered.
“We are employing additional patient care assistants to pay more attention to the comfort of the patient, turning them, ensuring that they are turned on time, fed and cleaned. The Ministry is also hiring additional nurses… just last week the Ministry signed a number of contracts of pharmaceuticals and sundries….” Bullock Ducasse said.
Another measure taken by the Health Minister, is the hiring of a Medical Microbiologist to ensure that basic practices which were not being followed are adhered to.
The audit found that standard hand washing and cleaning services and the protocol for the preparation of cleaning items were not being uniformly implemented.
However the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ) has voiced concern about aspects of the audit.
The association said sections of the audit are too general in the recommendations for improvement.
“We need to build more bridges within the sector, in terms of collaboration and working together usually with an audit, those findings are shared with the stakeholders. I was not invited in my capacity to discuss or review any of these issues,” said MAJ President Dr. Shane Alexis.