COVID-19: NHF’s Response
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted Jamaica and the entire world. Jamaica had its first reported case of the virus in March 2020 and the National Health Fund had to rapidly reorganize its systems to respond to the pandemic.
The NHF activities are focused on the major areas:
- Managing the procurement of critical equipment and medical supplies
- Increasing access to medication
- Providing personal protective equipment (PPEs) to safeguard health workers
- Collaborating with the private sector and non-profit organizations
- Medication delivery service for the elderly
- Pharmacy services in quarantined communities
Managing the procurement of critical equipment and medical supplies
The NHF was mandated to procure critical equipment and medical supplies including ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPEs) for the national response to COVID-19 in the country. The sourcing of medical supplies has become extremely challenging in light of the unprecedented experience globally, such as lockdowns of countries/cities, shortage of items and price increase, however, the NHF is working closely with local and international suppliers and other government ministries to secure supplies that are in high demand.
Increasing access to medication
A core function of the NHF is to ensure that its beneficiaries have access to medications to manage their chronic illnesses. In response to the government’s containment measures such as lockdowns and curfews, special arrangements for an early refill and increased supply of medications were implemented to minimise public gatherings due to the coronavirus.
The Fund adjusted its claims adjudication business rules to enable beneficiaries to access more than one month’s supply of medications at pharmacies.
Prescription items on the NHFCard which were limited to 30 days’ supply have been increased to 90 days cardholders. Both NHF cardholders as well as Jamaica Drug for the Elderly Programme (JADEP) beneficiaries are able to fill their prescriptions earlier, from day 15 instead of the usual 26th day of their month’s supply. Additionally, the Jamaica Drug for the Elderly Programme (JADEP) beneficiaries continue to access up to 60 days’ supply of their medications, up from their usual 30 days’ supply.
Providing personal protective equipment (PPEs) to safeguard health workers
The NHF has been working non-stop in procuring and distributing personal protective gears to health facilities across the island in order to protect health workers.
Collaborating with the Private Sector
The NHF receives substantial support from the private sector and non-governmental organisations to assist with the public health response to COVID-19. Alcohol, sanitizer and medications were among the essential items received and the NHF has been bottling and distributing these items to health facilities across the island.
Medication Delivery Service
Medication delivery service was among the process improvement plan of the Pharmaceutical Division the NHF. In response to the needs of the elderly clients, the home delivery service was fast-tracked and implemented for patients 65 years and older. In order to serve our clients better, the home delivery service was considered critical as older persons and persons with underlying conditions are most susceptible to complications from COVID-19.
Pharmacy services in quarantined communities
Through our pharmacy mobile services, the team comprises of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians is filling prescriptions in quarantined communities.
To support the residents of quarantined communities the NHF mobile pharmacy team works closely with the national response team including the Ministry of Health & Wellness, local Parish Health Departments as well as the security force.
For more information check out our COVID-19 Resources