Eleven Jamaican nurses who work in the public health sector and their educators are to travel to Cuba to obtain practical experience in the area of Nephrology. Nephrology is the area of medicine that deals with malfunctions and diseases of the kidneys including diagnosis, treatment and management by medication, diet and dialysis.
Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer says this forms part of plans to strengthen the dialysis programme in the public health sector. The nurses are slated to leave the island on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 and are expected to spend a week in Cuba.
“This is part of the arrangement with our Cuban counterparts to offer clinical experience to our nurses being trained in Nephrology to support our dialysis programme,” said Minister Spencer.
There are currently three dialysis centres in the public health sector located at the Kingston Public, Spanish Town and Cornwall Regional Hospitals. The Mandeville Regional Hospital will be officially launching its dialysis unit this month.
The demand for dialysis services is growing. A review of the services estimates that Jamaica has about 1,170 patients in need of dialysis at any given time. According to the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey 2008, there are approximately 150,000 persons living with diabetes, which is a leading risk factor for kidney disease. Globally, the World Health Organization estimates that the number of people with diabetes could double to 360 million by 2030 with deaths associated with the disease to increase by more than 50% in the next 10 years.
The Ministry is moving to improve the human resource offering in dialysis service by training Dialysis Technicians, broadening the opportunities for clinical experience for nephrology nurses and increasing the number of dialysis machines in the public sector. The policy is that patients should not travel for more than 30 minutes to access this service.
In the meantime, at the end of this month, Minister Spencer will be leading a team from the Ministry of Health to Cuba to among other things meet the new Cuban Health Minister, finalize the Bio-medical services contract and have discussions on the recruitment of new medical staff and the supply of pharmaceuticals. Minister Spencer says “we are confident that this trip will be as successful as the one which was conducted in June 2010.”