McCaw-Binns, Affette M.; Moody, C. O.
Author Affiliation, Ana.
Department of Community Health and Psychiatry
The development of primary health care in Jamaica
West Indian Medical Journal
Date of Publication
The development of primary health care in Jamaica is explored, tracing its early roots to the abolition of the slave trade, the collapse of estate-based services after emancipation and the subsequent establishment of the Island Medical Services in 1875. Most development in the health sector occurred after World War I in response to the high infectious disease mortality rates. The Rockefeller Foundation was asked to assist with the control of hookworm, tuberculosis, malaria and yaws. Its recommendations led to the growth of public health programmes (e.g. environmental health, public health nursing, community midwifery) alongside community-based curative services run by hospitals. The most significant period of development occurred in the 1970s when the various vertical programmes were integrated into the current primary care system. Jamaica was integral in the development of the World Health Organization's Alma Ata Declaration on Primary Health Care, tabling the 'Jamaican Perspective on Primary Health Care' which set out its goal that all citizens should be within 10 miles walking distance of a primary health care facility. At the close of the twentieth century, the health reform process led to the development of regional health authorities aimed at integrating the management of primary and secondary care under four Regional Boards of Health. This has led to a change in the role of the central Ministry of Health to one of policy- making, health promotion, setting standards, monitoring and evaluation of the quality of health care.....