There are two private hospitals. In the public sector, ambulatory care at the community level is delivered through a network of 317 health centres. Secondary and tertiary care is offered via 23 government hospitals and the teaching hospital of the University of the West Indies, with a combined capacity of 4,802 beds. There are two private hospitals. There is a map of locations for hospital and health centres.
There are more than 500 pharmacies here. There is usually a pharmacy in the shopping complex of a major town. Based on a PAHO (2012) household survey, "few" patients have to travel more than one hour to reach public dispensing facilities or private pharmacies. Some drugs are served only on a prescription basis. Key essential medicines are generally available in over 90% of public health facilities and private pharmacies. However, the average length of stock-out duration for drugs in public health facilities was 23.1 days (PAHO, 2012). A pharmacist was more likely to be available in the private than the public pharmacy. Affordability for medicine could be an issue, especially in private sector.
The cost of prescribed medication can be high. The PAHO (2012) study found that the lowest paid government worker would need about a day's wage to buy the cheapest generic medicines from the private sector for standard prescription for common conditions such as hypertension and worm infestation. The non-generic brands for the same condition can cost up to five days wages to purchase treatment. The estimated lowest daily wage for a government worker is about JMD$1200.
There is government assistance for those with chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes. The government approves the use of generic drugs. 576 items are on the Vital, Essential, and Necessary (VEN) drug list are supplied at no charge at public dispensaries or participating pharmacies when using the government health card. The government will recover cost from private health insurers when persons with private health insurance use the public health system.
Private pharmacies generally open for longer hours than public dispensaries or regular business hours; up to 10 hours or until 6pm. Increasingly more of them are opening later - up until 10pm. Call in to verify opening times if you have to go late. Service features vary. In some cases, you can fax or call in a prescription ahead of visiting to pay and pick up. We have seen a pharmacy with a drive through to buy prescription. Some offer a delivery service, and others have a facility for consultation with the pharmacist. Of course, the Pharmacies accept insurance.
With so much to deal with before leaving your home country, (taxes, moving house, paperwork etc.) the careful planning of your expatriation to Kingston is an essential step. As far as healthcare is concerned, your local social security scheme won’t be accompanying you to your host country and, once abroad, you might be surprised by the care system you find in Jamaica So, before leaving, make sure you have appropriate cover!
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