Sickle Cell Disease Now Covered By NHF
Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) has been added to the list of chronic conditions covered by the National Health Fund (NHF).
A total of $211 million has been allocated for subsidies on medication for the treatment of the disease. This brings to 16, the number of illnesses covered under the Fund’s Individual Benefits Programme.
The announcement was made at a ceremony held on Tuesday (June 30), at the New Kingston Conference Centre.
In his address at the function, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, said that including sickle cell among the chronic conditions covered by the NHF is indicative of the strides being taken by the Government and other stakeholders in improving the management of the disease.
“This historical moment is significant for persons, who live with sickle cell disease, their caregivers and their loved ones. Their burden is lessened in accessing medication that will help to alleviate a myriad of acute complications,” he pointed out.
Chairman of the Board of Management of the NHF, Sterling Soares, said the benefit “will be of significant assistance for patients to better manage and control sickle cell symptoms and thereby improve their quality of life.”
Persons, who are existing NHF beneficiaries and are interested in registering for SCD, are required to complete the NHF ‘Change Form’(blue form) in order to add the condition.
The forms must be signed by a medical doctor verifying that the patient suffers from the disease.
Meanwhile, persons who are not NHF beneficiaries should complete a NHF Application Form (yellow form) to access this benefit.
NHF application forms are currently being re-designed to include SCD and in the interim, doctors are being asked to use the current application forms to enrol sickle cell patients for the NHF programme. This can be done by writing the condition in the empty slot located in Section C at the bottom of the ‘Conditions’ section of the form.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NHF, Everton Anderson, said that in improving on the services offered, the NHF has cut down on the processing time of applications from seven days to mere minutes.
“If you come into our office with a fully completed form, within 15 minutes, your NHF card will be ready,” he informed.
For more information on accessing SCD benefits, persons are advised to call the NHF customer service centre at 906-1106 or 1-888-342-5643.
Sickle-cell disease, also known as sickle-cell anaemia, is a hereditary blood disorder, characterised by an abnormality in the oxygen-carrying haemoglobin molecule in red blood cells.
This leads to a propensity for the cells to assume an abnormal, rigid, sickle-like shape under certain circumstances. Sickle-cell disease is associated with a number of acute and chronic health problems, such as severe infections, attacks of severe pain (sickle-cell crisis), and stroke, and there is an increased risk of death.
Date: July 2, 2015