The North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA) was born out of the National Health Service Act in 1997 and the Government of Jamaica’s Health Reform Programme which saw the decentralizing of health service delivery. Under decentralization, the management of delivery of health services shifted from central government (Ministry of Health) to 4 semi-autonomous bodies – the Regional Health Authorities (RHA). RHAs have responsibility for the operation and management of health services within a defined geographic area.
The decentralization of the management of the Health Service is designed to facilitate the provision of cost-effective, accessible, integrated health care of an acceptable standard to the Jamaican public. NERHA is under the control and direction of a board of directors comprising 15 persons appointed by the Minister of Health. The Chief Executive of NERHA is the Regional Director (RD) who reports directly to the Chairman of the Board. The RD is responsible for the management of the day-to-day activities of the authority. NERHA comprises the parishes of St. Ann, St. Mary and Portland, a geographic area of 1018 sq. miles (2637 km2), and a population of 356, 000. It constitutes 13.8% of the general population and is the smallest of the 4 health regions in Jamaica.
Each parish is under the responsibility of a Parish Manager who administers the resources involved in the delivery of services in the parish. In addition there are Hospital Management Committees, and Parish Health Committees, comprising representatives of the crucial professions in the region, and community leaders. The North East health region has a care delivery network formed by 73 health centres, 4 general hospitals and 2 community hospitals. There are 1400 health and administrative workers.