Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says the role of nurses will be crucial as the Government seeks to transform health care delivery in Jamaica, to a more patient-centered system. As such, he said, “it is an important strategy to shore-up our human resource in the area of nursing and ensure that we have the skills necessary to serve the needs of our population in a continuously changing epidemiological landscape.” The Minister was addressing the annual scientific conference of the Jamaica Association of Nurse Anesthetists (JANA) held on November 10 at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios, St. Ann. According to Dr. Ferguson, the current outlook of the Ministry of Health is geared towards enhancing and refining primary health care and developing centres of excellence in secondary and tertiary health institutions. “Nurses will be central in defining and implementing this new paradigm,” he stated. He commended the country’s nurses, including anesthetists, noting that they play a critical role in preserving lives in the public health sector. “With the high quality of training and the excellence demonstrated by Jamaican nurses, my administration is sensitive to the need to do everything within our means to retain the nursing cadre, including specialist groups, such as yourselves,” the Minister assured. He informed that more nurses will be coming in from Cuba, but they will have specialist roles. “The nurses that are coming from Cuba are specialists in primary care. In addition, we have gone through to have a better selection process now in terms of persons understanding English, which was a concern. They have the technical skills,” he stated. He noted also that six dental surgeons are on their way from Cuba to boost the dental cadre in the health system. Meanwhile, the Minister praised the administration of the St. Mary-based Annotto Bay Hospital, which he said, is exemplary. He informed that the hospital has twinned with other health institutions to benefit from best practices. “When you go there you see leadership at work and I have taken a decision to reward excellence (through a $52 million) expansion of the Accident and Emergency area, and other areas, to bring it to an excellent level,” Minister Ferguson said.