Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Friday | July 17, 2009
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Gov't to give UHWI $25m - Cabinet to make ruling on hospital abolishing user fees

Rudyard Spencer (right), minister of health, updates the nation on the abolition of user fees for children under 12 at the University Hospital of the West Indies. The occasion was a press conference held at his downtown Kingston offices. Also present is Dr Grace Allen-Young, permanent secretary in the health ministry. - Ian Allen/Staff Photographer

THE Ministry of Health will have to divert $25 million to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) if Cabinet accepts a proposal from the institution to abolish user fees for children up to 12 years old.

Health officials are currently reviewing the recommendation from the management of the hospital but, from all indications, it appears the proposal will get the nod from Cabinet.

"The budget is given and we will have to reorganise and reallocate because we have the regions and various entities to provide with funding. We will make arrangement for $25 million to go to the University Hospital of the West Indies," Health Minister Rudyard Spencer told journalists yesterday at a post-Sectoral Debate press conference at his ministry's downtown Kingston offices.

Producing statistics to support the UHWI's proposal to remove user fees for children up to 12 years of age, the health minister said that since the new policy was introduced at Bustamante Hospital for Children in 2007, admissions increased by 17 per cent while casualty visits jumped by 61 per cent. In addition, pharmacy visits increased by 49 per cent while laboratory visits increased by 23 per cent.

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