The Government of Jamaica has announced an investment of $700m to procure diagnostic and other medical equipment for three hospitals across the country.

The three hospitals include Spanish Town Hospital in St. Catherine; St. Ann’s Bay Hospital in St. Ann; and the May Pen Hospital in Clarendon.

Health Services Support Project funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will facilitate the new investment.

The funds will be used to buy three CT scan machines, three X-ray machines, dental equipment, and machinery for operating theatres at the facilities.

With the new diagnostic equipment, the process for assessment and treatment of patients at hospital will speed up, resulting in reduced stay and overcrowding.

Jamaica Minister of Health and Wellness Christopher Tufton said: “This delay impacts several aspects of the healthcare delivery, specifically bed-stay-time in hospital.

“This then, of course, has a ripple effect and impacts the turnover rate of beds and ultimately contributes to overcrowding.

“The Government intends to equip the country’s hospitals with the basic minimum diagnostic equipment but still maintain a relationship with the private sector for when we have gaps in the system.”

According to the minister, lack of proper infrastructure is among the primary issues that affect service delivery at public health facilities.

The infrastructure will enable clinicians to access timely information to evaluate and diagnose illnesses and provide the appropriate treatment.

Based on a database of all diagnostic equipment within the public health system, the Ministry has conducted a comprehensive assessment.

In the assessment, more than 70% of the equipment in public facilities is either near or at the end of its useful life.

Also, more than 40% of equipment bought by the Government is unusable due to lack of maintenance or insufficient maintenance or lack of parts for repair.