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NATIONAL HEALTH FUND (NHF) LAUNCHES NEW PROGRAMME TO PROVIDE SUBSIDY FOR A1C TEST FOR DIABETICS

NATIONAL HEALTH FUND (NHF) LAUNCHES NEW PROGRAMME TO PROVIDE SUBSIDY FOR A1C TEST FOR DIABETICS

The National Health Fund launched a new programme to provide a subsidy for A1C (A one C) test for diabetics on ?World Diabetes Day? Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.

The A1C test is a simple laboratory test that shows the average blood glucose level over the last three (3) months in order to determine if a person?s blood glucose level is within the normal range.
The objectives of adding the A1C Benefit are:
? To provide the best available measurement of blood glucose level at the point of care to efficiently and adequately monitor glycemic control
? To reduce the cost of A1C test to beneficiaries thereby increasing their access to this important test
? Improve the management and care of diabetics in order to reduce the long term complications and associated costs

The NHF A1C programme is another good example of public private sector partnership as is the programme that provides Glucometers free of cost to diabetics enrolled for the NHFcard. The manufacturers/distributors of test kits will partner with the NHF to provide the testing equipment free of charge. So far, Axis-Shield, a Norwegian manufacturer, has agreed to participate and provides the NHF with their most modern testing instrument, the NycoCard ReaderII.

The NHF then loans the instrument to medical practitioners and laboratories who are required to purchase the test kits and all consumables in order to provide their patients with the test.

Providers will charge their clients for their inputs ? staff and overhead expenses.
Chief Executive Officer of NHF, Mr. Rae Barrett noted that, “I expect the cost of the test to NHF card beneficiaries to reduce by 80 to 90 per cent, allowing patients to access this test more frequently to improve the management and treatment of their diabetes,”

Mr. Barrett said with the new benefit, diabetics enrolled with the NHF card will be allowed two subsidized tests annually at a cost of $300 each.

The NHFcard beneficiary will be able to access the A1C test benefit at NHF participating providers (hospitals, laboratories, medical practitioners and other authorized medical facilities). Eighteen Providers have signed contracts with the NHF to provide the A1C test. Fifteen are in the Public sector and 3 in the private sector. Coverage for the test is now available in all parishes except Trelawny, Clarendon and Manchester.

Dr. Rosemarie Wright Pascoe, President of the Medical Association of Jamaica and herself a Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist says the NHF is a ray of hope for diabetics because of the numerous initiatives for assisting persons with this disease through subsidies for drugs, the introduction of a programme for self blood glucose monitoring, the subsidy for the insulin pen and now the proramme for subsidized A1C testing.

Dr. Sheila Campbell Forrester, Chief Medical Officer, applauded the NHF and its partners on the implementation of another ground breaking initiative to reduce the impact of diabetes on the Jamaican population.

To date, the National health Fund has provided over $351.8 million in NHFcard diabetes drug subsidy and $44.5 million for diabetic supplies such as glucometer strips, syringes and insulin delivery instruments etc. In addition, they have instituted, in collaboration with the private sector, a programme that provides diabetics with Glucometers, free of charge, for self monitoring.

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