20 Aug, 2021

More than 700,000 Jamaicans in the parishes of St. Elizabeth, Manchester and Clarendon are benefitting from improved access to healthcare through the donation of $32 million by the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund for the acquisition of surgical equipment for health facilities in the Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA).

The equipment, including surgical beds and tables, an anaesthetic machine, defibrillators, autoclaves and electrosurgical units for operating theatres, have been installed at hospitals and one health centre in the region.

SRHA Director, Michael Bent, said that the new equipment will enhance efficiency in the delivery of health services.

“They will decrease patient waiting time because of a reduction in downtime of new equipment and also result in less wait for patients who are to do surgery. For the autoclaves, infection prevention and control is one of the hallmarks of any health service and we have to ensure that the instruments that we are using are properly sterilised, so these autoclaves help to improve not just efficiency but also the quality of care,” he noted.

Mr. Bent disclosed that the acquisition was in keeping with the Authority’s five-year retooling plan, aimed at replacing aged equipment with instruments and tools that are modern and reliable.

He said that acquiring the necessary resources to respond to healthcare needs is a high priority for the SHRA.

“Quality healthcare is one of the pillars of any country, so we must at all times be building capacity if we want to have a healthy nation and economy. In keeping with our philosophy of compassion, accountability and efficiency, the bottom line is to ensure that we are changing equipment and bringing in newer ones, so that we have greater efficiencies,” he pointed out.

Mr. Bent hailed the approximately 2,700 health and administrative workers in the region for their commitment to “going above and beyond the call of duty” in providing quality healthcare to patients.

“We try at all times to give our staff the best equipment so they are very happy and they are satisfied that the region is trying to give them the tools that are necessary to do their jobs. The patients are also happy, as they have seen that we are lifting the quality within the region’s facilities,” he adds.

Project Manager at the CHASE Fund, Latoya Aquart-Foster, advised that the entity was happy to facilitate the request from SRHA, noting that CHASE is committed to improving the quality of healthcare in the region.

“The southern region covers a vast population, and the hospitals and health centres that are situated in this region have significant resource constraints. When we reviewed the request from the SHRA and the areas of need identified, we saw it fit to support the project and approve a level of funding that will allow much of the needs to be met,” she noted.

Mrs. Aquart-Foster added that the Fund anticipates enhanced service delivery, patient care as well as greater levels of efficiencies.

“It will see a reduction in the operating costs for the operating theatres because the new equipment received would replace ageing equipment, which breaks down often and needs costly repairs. Also, equipment provided for the sterilisation of small instruments will assist with infection control,” she said.

The CHASE Fund supports projects in the health sector, including building, upgrading, restoring and equipping facilities; providing training for healthcare practitioners; promoting healthy lifestyles; and developing and implementing programmes related to renal disease and cancer prevention, detection, treatment and care.