MARSHALL ISLANDS HEALTH MINISTRY’S NEW START

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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (August 27, 2001 – Marshall Islands Journal)---"We’re going to shift emphasis away from off-island referrals," said Health Secretary Donald Capelle of the Ministry’s new Cabinet-approved plan of action.

"We can’t continue to send out patients, or it will use up all (the government’s) money. It’s a bottomless pit.

"Our aim," he continued, "is to strengthen local capabilities and elevate the standard of health care by increasing the number of specialists and improving our laboratory."

A poorly functioning and ill-equipped laboratory is one of the first targets of the plan that Minister of Health Alvin Jacklick gained Cabinet support for last week. If there is no diagnostic support, no matter how good doctors are, they cannot provide a high standard of care, he said.

Because of the skyrocketing referral costs – estimated at $7 million this year, the highest ever – "there has been no money for basic medicines and supplies," Capelle said. "If there’s just a small thing missing (for treatment), we have to refer patients."

He believes that people will feel an "immediate impact" with the influx of new equipment and specialists.

"It’s a new start," he said of the plan of action. "I’m optimistic that something good will come out of it."

The Marshall Islands Journal, Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail: journal@ntamar.com  Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year US $87.00; international $213.00 (air mail). 

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