Residents of Seaview Gardens in St. Andrew are welcoming the opening of a Drug Serv Pharmacy at the community health centre.
The move by the National Health Fund (NHF) allows members of the community and other users to access their medication at the same place where they receive their healthcare.
No longer will persons have to travel to Cross Roads or the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) to get their medication.
For Sharon Kelly, who has been attending the Seaview Gardens Health Centre every month for the past 10 years, having the pharmacy close by means that she is now able to get her medication within her community, which saves both time and money.
“It was really difficult to have to go all the way downtown to get my medication at KPH, but now that the pharmacy is here, I have time to do other things on clinic days,” she says.
Olando Wilson, who is epileptic and has been attending the health centre every two weeks since childhood, says that given his condition, he is happy to no longer have to travel outside of Seaview Gardens for his medication.
Chief Executive Officer of the NHF, Everton Anderson, tells JIS News that the agency is working assiduously to fulfil its mandate to consolidate the management of government pharmaceutical services.
He says the Fund has found that “many of the primary care facilities are not properly covered as it relates to having reliable pharmacy service, which has been a major focus of the Fund”.
He explains that in making the decision to set up the Drug Serv Pharmacy in Seaview Gardens, the NHF team met with members of the community to discuss how they could be better served.
“This has led to people staying at the health centre and receiving their medication at their point of care, and experiencing a better pharmacy service,” he says.
Mr. Anderson notes that it is the Government’s intention to replicate the model across the country, working not only with NHF-managed pharmacies but also with private facilities.
“We recently took over the management of the St. Ann’s Bay Hospital Pharmacy, and we’re looking at expanding into those primary care facilities in that (parish),” he notes.
The NHF CEO says the programme will be moving into other parishes, including Manchester and Clarendon.
“We want one model that works across the country that incorporates our pharmacies, private pharmacies and appropriate management of our hospitals, to create a really pleasurable pharmacy experience for the patients,” he adds.
In the meantime, Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, tells JIS News that the consolidation will result in increased efficiency, and is one component of the Government’s overall programme to improve pharmaceutical services.
The other is linked to the existing public-private partnership, which involves making Government drugs available to public patients at selected private pharmacies.
The objective is to expand pharmaceutical care and minimise waiting time for patients.
“This is intended to give better coverage, and it will, in turn, reduce waiting time for persons who would have to rely on the hospital pharmacies. So, it’s really an overhaul of the approach to drug distribution by creating one platform to administer, and linking that with some critical private-sector partners to create more windows and more outlets for distribution,” he explains.
Dr. Tufton says the intention is to establish 50 of these outlets across the country, “then the hospitals and some of the major health centres would provide the other outlets”.
“Our position is that those outlets will significantly reduce the need for long waits and for travelling long distances. After that, we will review and determine if there are any necessary adjustments to be made,” he adds.
The objective of the Drug Serv programme is to make high-quality pharmaceuticals readily available, as well as to facilitate improved patient compliance, especially among those who are unable to purchase the medication.
By: Peta Gay Hodges