Current Affairs

Current Affairs




NHF registration gets off to slow start
Observer Reporter
Tuesday, April 29, 2003



Rose Samuels, office manager for the National Health Fund registration centre at Duhaney Park, explains to applicant, Maslyn Campbell, how to fill out the registration form. (Photo: Bryan Cummings)

MEMBERS of the public yesterday trickled in to 68 centres islandwide to register for the benefits provided from the $2.2 billion National Health Fund (NHF).

Registration is being carried out with the assistance of the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ), and will help 750,000 Jamaicans of all ages to access cheaper drugs for 14 chronic illnesses.

"We are satisfied with the amount of persons who have responded on the first day," said Neville Graham, EOJ public relations manager. "You may not see long lines but the amount of persons has grown throughout the day."

Most of those registering yesterday in the Corporate Area and St Catherine were elderly.

"I have sugar (diabetes) and this come at the right time 'cause I can't afford the money whe it cost me fi medication," Alveta Williams, a 61-year-old applicant, told the Observer inside the Duhaney Park registration centre.

In St James, the day's registration got off to a shaky start as one centre, listed as 4 St Clavers Plaza, turned out to be a hairdressing salon. The salon owner did not know the correct address where registrations would take place, but there was a centre at the EOJ's Region three office at numbers 13 and 14 St James Plaza.

There was a slow trickle of persons entering that location at 10:00 am and half-an-hour later, only two persons had come in to be processed. But according to EOJ personnel, more than 100 forms had been issued from that office from last Wednesday, ahead of yesterday's official start of registration.

Meanwhile, at the Type V Health Centre in St James, a slightly annoyed Geneive McIntosh told the Observer that based on her understanding of the radio advertisements on the NHF, she went to her doctor to get a letter listing the medical condition for which she requires medication. However, when she turned up at the registration centre, no one asked for the letter, she was handed a form and will again have to go back to her doctor to have it signed.

"We should just do it one time an' done," she grumbled.

But pointing to the high cost of drugs needed to treat her diabetes, she was, however, grateful that the NHF will provide medicine at a lower cost.

"I'm just trying it out," said Sandra Williams, a diabetic. "I have my health card but any little will help. I think this is a good thing."

The NHF will defray the cost of drugs used in the treatment of asthma, arthritis, diabetes, breast cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, prostate cancer, high cholesterol, hypertension, major depression, ischaemic disease, heart disease, psychosis and rheumatic fever. Persons applying for assistance under the NHF must have their illnesses certified by a doctor and be in possession of a Tax Registration Number, (TRN). Children will be provided with TRN's to help them access drugs under the scheme.