NHF’s QMS is ISO – 9001:2015 Certified · Government of Jamaica

An agency of the Ministry of Health & Wellness

PUBLIC HEALTH IN THE SOUTH EAST HEALTH REGION GETS BIG BOOST WITH NHF FUNDING

PUBLIC HEALTH IN THE SOUTH EAST HEALTH REGION GETS BIG BOOST WITH NHF FUNDING

The Public Health Departments of the South East Regional Health Authority have received a much needed injection of funding for the introduction of a secure Food Handlers Permit System, computerization of its health departments and the purchase of new equipment to support public health inspectors in carrying out their duties. These projects are receiving funding from the National Health Fund totaling $26.58 million.

The new Food Handlers Permit System is aimed at shortening the turn around time for the certification of food handlers? permits and stemming fraud. Previously approximately 5 weeks were required to issue permits from the time of application. However with the new computerized system the aim is to reduce this waiting time to six working days for successful applicants to receive their permits.

PVC coated cards will be used for the new system replacing the old paper permits which were susceptible to forgery. The paper permits are expected to be phased out by early 2006. Computer technology is being used to facilitate the administrative work of this programme with twenty-five (25) computers installed in the Region?s health departments.

80,000 persons are certified as food handlers in the SERHA each year. These are persons who work in the food industry ? fast food restaurants, bakeries and supermarkets. Already 2,900 food handlers have been issued with the new badges since the programme started at the end of February 2005. Mrs. Marie Wint-McKenzie, MIS Director at SERHA, says this is double the amount of cards that would have been processed using the old paper permits. She says this overwhelming response to the new Food Handlers Permit System has put a strain on the production of the new cards and the turn around time for issuing the cards has been decreased to two weeks. While this is still better than the previous waiting time of five weeks, she says the system is being reviewed and adjusted to bring the waiting time down to the new standard of six (6) working days.

The new Food Handlers Identification Project is being piloted in the South East Region and will be rolled out to the other Regional Health Authorities following an evaluation.

Public Health Inspectors in the SERHA are now receiving new equipment valued at $10.4 million to be used to carry out their function to ensure environmental health and protection. The new equipment being received will support inspection of water quality, food inspection including meat inspection and quarantine inspection. Included in the list of new equipment are also protective gear such as cold room jackets, cameras to record evidence of inspection and training equipment.

Samuel Cameron, Regional Environmental Health Officer says the funding from the NHF is helping tremendously with providing proper equipment for the public health inspectors to carry out their duties efficiently and support them in conducting highly professional inspections. The equipment will also eliminate any doubts about the accuracy of results produced upon inspection as well as collect undisputable evidence of breaches.

Equipment will be assigned to individual inspectors who are responsible for their safe keeping.

Contact: Rosemarie Lee, Public Information Officer, Tel 906-1106

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