Centre of Excellence for Health Workforce Planning to Open Next Year


A Centre of Excellence for Health Workforce Planning is to be opened in Jamaica by February 2010, Health Minister, the Hon. Rudyard Spencer, has announced.
The centre, he said, forms part of efforts to modernise Jamaica’s public health sector, by improving the human, physical, and technological infrastructures.
Speaking during the 2009/10 Sectoral Debate in Gordon House on Wednesday (July 15), Mr. Spencer said the Centre of Excellence would facilitate the convergence of state leaders, institutions, researchers, and policy makers from the health, education, finance, and labour sectors, who share the common goal of providing quality health care through a “well-trained, well-placed, motivated workforce.”
The institution’s development, he added, will be funded by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), and the International Affairs Directorate, Health Canada Biennial Work Plan.
Mr. Spencer also advised that the Ministry is part of a collaborative effort undertaking a human resources needs-based study of the health sector in Jamaica. The partnership, he informed, also involves the University of the West Indies (UWI), Dalhousie University in the United States, PAHO, and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“The need-based study. is not just about identifying gaps in existing categories or groups. But also determining the present and future human resource needs of the health sector. It is the first step towards building a continued Observatory of Human Resources in health that is based on evidence, and will facilitate needs-based planning and development,” the Health Minister outlined.
He further advised that a report, based on the study, and which revealed shortages across the health sector, has been submitted.
The data, Mr. Spencer informed, shows a severe shortage of dentists and rehabilitation specialists in speech and occupational therapy.
In noting the three-year duration of the training for most of these professionals, coupled with the additional period of internship, Mr. Spencer lamented that Jamaica’s institutions do not have the capacity to prepare individuals to fill existing vacancies, and effect replacements. The problem is further compounded by attrition and migration.
In this regard, he informed that the Ministry will continue to utilise the
$100 million grant secured from the National Health Fund (NHF), to undertake short-term training for professionals such as Pharmacy Technicians, Lab Technician Assistants, Psychiatric Aides, and Medical Records Technicians, among others. This, he added, is in order to free up the sectors highly trained staff to “focus on tasks that they cannot delegate.”
Mr. Spencer further advised that beginning in September, the Ministry will undertake training of 40 Dialysis and Pharmacy Technicians at the Lionel Town Hospital in Clarendon.
“The Ministry has also entered into a public/private sector partnership with the Radiation Oncology Centre of Jamaica to train Radiation Therapists,” Mr. Spencer added.

JIS Social