Vulnerable priority: Jamaica considers private doctors to care for 75,000 diabetic/hypertensive patients

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As data shows that those most affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are the elderly and those with underlying conditions, the Ministry of Health and Wellness is considering a public-private-partnership (PPP) to continue outpatient care of some 75,000 Jamaicans dealing with diabetes and hypertension.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, speaking at a digital press conference on Wednesday (March 25), said that while the measure is in its infancy, more steps are needed to safeguard many faced with the threat of contracting COVID-19 and developing complications.

“The very short but nevertheless important history of the virus tells us that those who die from the illness tend to be the older population and, more importantly, persons who have [pre-existing] conditions—cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and so on,” Tufton contended.

“We are very mindful of realities of community spread among that population and have begun to address that situation starting with our public health institutions, where many of those persons congregate on a daily basis for treatment,” he added.

With this in mind, Tufton continued, the Government is looking to further engage private practitioners under the PPP to outsource several services that these individuals would still need to access.

“To reduce the numbers of patients with comorbid conditions in [public] health centres and by extension reduce the risk of community spread. Under this arrangement, we have decided to take out two highly vulnerable persons; those [with] hypertension and those who are diabetic. This number, bases on our clinic sessions, [are] about 75,000 across the country,” he explained.

Minister of Health and Wellness Christopher Tufton (Photo: Christopher Lewinson/BUZZ)

The two sessional visits would then be conducted by private doctors up to twice a month and would be an initiative running for an initial four-month phase.

“We will coordinate with them (private doctors) once the process is complete, and we identify spread across the country, [come to] an agreed rate for each person seen to get their regular check-ups and prescriptions based on a registered arrangement under the National Health Fund,” Tufton indicated.

The minister said that the initiative was being considered for some time by the Government however, with the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, its implementation is being fast-tracked.

He further disclosed that the project would cost around $300 million over the initial four-month period, with details made public within the next week.