Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Junor gives new deadline for health fund

Jamaica Gleaner
published: Friday | November 22, 2002


HEALTH MINISTER, John Junor, on Tuesday announced a new deadline for the introduction of the long-awaited National Health Fund (NHF), stating that his Ministry was aiming to have the Fund operational by March/April next year.

He had previously hoped to have it running by August this year.

Denying reports that the Fund had been put off, he said that over the past few months the Ministry had been putting in place preliminary steps, such as arranging a logo and making arrangements for staffing and a registration system.

With regard to funding, the Minister reiterated that Government was still considering suggestions such as raising the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) ceiling, as well as putting a levy on tobacco products but, when pressed for more details on funding, he said those decisions rested with Cabinet and he did not want to "pre-empt Cabinet."

In the meantime, health officials are now carrying out research to assess the economic impact of tobacco control measures, with one use of the results being to determine what level of tax companies may pay on tobacco products.

The Ministry study began six weeks ago and followed Cabinet's request for more data regarding a previously submitted proposal, said Dr. Eva Lewis-Fuller, Director of the Health Ministry's Co-operation in Health office.

"A submission was made to Cabinet which asked for some more study into the implications of it and other control measures that were proposed and that is what the Ministry is studying right now...what the implications will be in terms of economics, in terms of health effects and after that we will re-submit our proposals and Cabinet will reconsider it," Dr. Lewis-Fuller told The Gleaner during a break in session at a workshop on Tobacco Control yesterday at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.