Approximately 3,600 Jamaicans with sickle cell will be able to access free medication, as Cabinet has approved the exemption of fees at public pharmacies, for individuals who are treated at the Sickle Unit of the University Hospital of the West Indies.
Speaking at a post Cabinet press conference Wednesday morning, Williams said that the amount is about 36 per cent of the 18,000 Jamaicans that suffer from the disease.
She said it will cost approximately $36 million annually and will be funded through the pharmaceutical budget of the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
“These persons were not able to access medication that was available free of cost to sicklers who sought care in the public health system.
“This will enable them to have their prescriptions that they would have obtained from the sickle cell unit, filled at public pharmacies at no cost to them,” Williams said.
Meanwhile, Williams also said that St Joseph’s Hospital in St Andrew has now been moved from the direct management of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, to that Ministry’s South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA).
According to Williams, St Joseph’s Hospital is classified as a public health hospital under the National Health Services Act, but currently, only offers private services.
She said the transfer of management will not impact the approximately 154 staff members employed at the institution, while also not affecting the public/private partnership arrangement for the hospital to have a centre of excellence in oncology and nephrology.