Kingston, Jamaica, January 19, 2024 (PAHO) - The third and final Essentials of Public Health Functions (EPHF) workshop, which brought together diverse stakeholders in Jamaica's health sector, concluded today after two days of robust discussions about the utility of EPHFs in reshaping the country's health system.
The workshop aimed to align identified gaps from the EPHF assessment conducted over the past year with existing policies and plans. Emphasis was placed on developing a clear pathway forward, with a focus on stewardship and ownership.
Amidst escalating global health challenges, the workshop underscored the pivotal role of EPHFs in driving progress and fortifying Jamaica's health system, aligning it with global best practices. This is particularly crucial in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted emerging health threats and revealed gaps within the local health system and the importance of adaptability, especially during periods of upheaval in the sector.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) defines essential public health functions (EPHF) as the capacities of health authorities, at all institutional levels and together with civil society, to strengthen health systems and guarantee the full exercise of the right to health, acting on the risk factors and social determinants that influence the health of the population.
EPHF implementation necessitates collaboration between the health sector and other government sectors and civil society, as well as the alignment of policies and resources. Moreover, implementing EPHFs stands to significantly contribute to Jamaica's national development goals in tandem with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG 3) of Health for All and the Vision for Health 2030, the Ten-Year Strategic Plan for the Health Sector.
The PAHO/WHO Jamaica country office is committed to operationalizing EPHFs within the national health system. This commitment involves aligning policies, streamlining resources, and fostering a unified commitment to their seamless integration.