A delegation from the Jamaican Diaspora Canada Foundation took part in a meeting last week to determine how assistance from the Diaspora would benefit Jamaica’s healthcare system. The meeting was hosted by the Jamaican Diaspora Healthcare Sector and Friends of Jamaica, in association with the Ministry of Health at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on October 11.
The objective of the meeting was to strengthen the Ministry’s relations with healthcare professionals in the Jamaican Diaspora and Friends of Jamaica, and the extended networks of both groups. It was part of the on-going effort to strengthen the framework for integrating overseas healthcare outreach to Jamaica into the Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Health.
The meeting also served as the launch of the Advancements in Medicine and Healthcare 2013 conference, scheduled for February 25 to March 2, 2013 in Jamaica. Attending from the Jamaican Diaspora Canada Foundation, (JDCF) were President Valarie Steele, who is also a member for Canada on the Jamaican Diaspora Advisory Board; Dudley Morgan, Director of Education, JDCF and Regional Director Yukon, NWT and Nunavut and liaison to May Pen and Chapleton hospitals; and Kingsley Gilliam, member of the Diaspora International Healthcare Planning Group from Canada and Director, Social Services and Health JDCF.
The meeting resulted in the development of a mechanism for the Diaspora Foundation to play a pivotal role in the receipt, management and disbursement of Diaspora funds for Diaspora and Ministry-approved projects and initiatives in the hospital sector, in addition to the appointment of a hospital liaison for each hospital, to collaborate with the three Diaspora appointed liaisons from Canada, the United States and United Kingdom.
Among the areas of greatest need identified at the meeting were the lack of kidney dialysis machines, blood pressure monitoring equipment and equipment to front line care providers, such as clinics.
From October 8 to 13, several meetings were held with stakeholders. The first was a meeting with the CEO of Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) and an advocacy official of the South-East Regional Health Authority to review progress at KPH in resolving issues that resulted in a scathing undercover newspaper report. At the meeting the Diaspora was represented by Claudette Powell from New York and Gilliam. The meeting resulted in the announcement of significant progress and on-going renovations to the KPH emergency department, which featured prominently in the newspaper report.
The next meeting was with senior officials of the Ministry of Health and persons nominated to be part of the Secretariat in the Ministry to interface with the Diaspora Healthcare Sector representatives. During the meeting, it was determined that the secretariat has not yet been finalized due to the retirement of the Chief Medical Officer. However, it was announced that the secretariat will be finalized soon and the reporting protocols between the hospital liaisons and the Ministry’s management structure should be in place for late November.
In addition, as a result of the Jamaican Diaspora and Friends of Jamaica Healthcare Fact Finding Mission to Jamaica in October 2011, members of both organizations have agreed to develop a strategy to address hypertension and heart related diseases in Jamaica. The group has launched a campaign to equip healthcare facilities across the island with 1,000 blood pressure machines by February, 2013.