First Look


Jamaica Information Service | 2020-05-20 16:06:00


The Ministry of Health and Wellness is to employ an additional 1,300 community health aides (CHAs) as part of a strategic framework to prepare the population to live with the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Ministry has already received approval from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service for the undertaking, and the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) have begun the process of recruitment.
Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. the Hon Christopher Tufton, said the new officers will augment the existing cadre of approximately 2,300 CHAs, bringing the total complement to approximately 3,900 across the island.
“In our new normal, active field surveillance, using methods such as contact tracing, community education and health information, and the monitoring of persons in quarantine and in isolation, will be important components of the public health response,” Dr. Tufton said during a statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday (May 19).
“The addition of these officers, therefore, will enable the Government to continue our efforts in early detection and strengthen our capacity to contain and manage any infection once they are identified,” he noted.
Dr. Tufton told the House that this “new normal” in public health must be underpinned by three strategic goals.
These are protecting the population from harmful health outcomes, particularly vulnerable communities; ensuring productive engagement of individuals within the society; and creating an environment where citizens can participate in meaningful social activities that enrich their lives and the lives of all with whom they interact.
“Within this new strategic framework, the prioritisation of public health and the reintroduction of an “everyone counts” approach to policy must form part of the way in which we must now live and operate,” Dr. Tufton said.

He pointed out that the Ministry has already begun to build out an infrastructure that will allow it to play its role within the “new normal”. 
This approach, he said, is anchored in the International Health Regulations for public health systems and will involve the strengthening of structures in eight areas – legislation and policy, coordination, surveillance, points of entry, laboratory, human resources, preparedness and response of health facilities, risk communication, and community engagement.
“In each of these areas, the Ministry of Health and Wellness will be working in collaboration with key stakeholders to achieve the strategic mandates that I have just outlined; ensuring that everyone counts,” Dr. Tufton said.
He noted that Cabinet has already given approval for partnership with the Ministry of Justice “to strengthen our public health laws to ensure better protection of the population and securing the rights of individuals even within the context of a crisis”.

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