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KINGSTON – The island's complement of nephrology and operating theatre nurses has been increased, with the addition of 25 nurses in these specialist areas.

They have been presented with certificates and awards, after undergoing training for eight months in nephrology and 32 weeks in operating theatre procedures.

Addressing the graduation ceremony at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, today  March 24, Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer commended the health professionals on their accomplishment, noting that specialist trained nurses will play a critical role in combating the burden of diseases.

He added that nurses are frontline workers who possess a vast knowledge about health and illness.

“In an era when we are intently focused on guaranteeing better health outcomes, it is important that we enhance the areas that are directly positioned to facilitate this goal. The need to train, employ and retain our health workers is of critical importance if we are to meet the demands of the shifting landscape,” Mr. Spencer said.

The Minister explained that the main aims of the course in nephrology are to provide new knowledge and enhance quality care to patients with renal failure and to develop critical thinking skills in the management of the patient with renal failure, kidney transplantation and on dialysis.

“This is a part of our thrust to expand renal dialysis services in the public health sector. Other initiatives include the training of 22 dialysis technicians at the Lionel Town Campus, which was opened in March last year, in partnership with the University of Technology (UTech),” he said.

The Minister also informed that the nurses who are trained in nephrology are also accommodated for one week to obtain clinical experience in Cuba.

“I am very passionate about this area of health care and the need to strengthen our capacity. It is especially important given the increasing prevalence of the chronic diseases, particularly diabetes, in Jamaica. The 2008 Health and Lifetsyle Survey indicates that over 150,000 Jamaicans in the 15 to 74 age group have diabetes, which major risk factor for kidney disease,” he said.

Mr. Spencer pointed out that the infectious disease landscape has changed from predominantly infectious and communicable conditions to chronic non-communicable lifestyle related health problems, adding that the impact of the changes to the disease profile of the country is evident from the patient utilisation data of the public health sector.

“Patient utilisation for chronic non-communicable diseases is high at health centres. In 2006, patient visits for hypertension stood at 123,521, an 18.8 per cent increase over the 2002 figure of 103,913. Hospital discharges stood at 2.2 per cent for diabetes; hypertension, 1.6 per cent; heart diseases 0.2 per cent; and stroke 1.6 per cent. There’s a significant burden on the health budget due to chronic non communicable diseases,” he said.

The post basic training programmes were facilitated by the Ministry of Health’s In service Education Unit.

                                                      

By CHRIS PATTERSON, JIS Reporter