As the Government expands facilities for renal dialysis, to make the service more accessible, focus is being placed on training in nephrology, with 13 nurses and three tutors already in Cuba.
In addition, 22 dialysis technicians are also in training, as a result of a partnership between the Ministry of Health and the University of Technology (UTech).
“During the period of a new two-year contract, to begin in July this year, we expect to boost the health workforce by recruiting over 500 health professionals from Cuba, including 167 physicians and 244 registered nurses,” Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, said in a statement read by Permanent Secretary, Dr. Jean Dixon, at the opening of the 3rd Annual International Conference on Nephrology and Hypertension, at the Rose Hall Resort and Spa Hotel, Montego Bay, on Thursday, January 27.
The Conference, which will focus on a slew of lifestyle illnesses and debilitating health conditions, with several top health professionals from across the Caribbean participating, is being held from January 27 to 30 under the theme, “Fighting to save the kidney, heart and brain”.
Mr. Spencer noted that government was committed to the expansion of the renal dialysis service, having regard to the increasing number of persons in need of it, and the prohibitive costs in the private sector.
“We have performed outstandingly in this regard, by increasing the number of renal dialysis units from 38 in 2008 to 68 in 2011. This represents an increase of over 44 per cent,” Mr. Spencer observed.
He said his ministry would continue to seek expansion of this critical service, by entering into partnerships with private providers.
“No Jamaican should be denied health care because they cannot afford to pay,” Mr. Spencer said.
He stated that nephrology and hypertension were of great importance to his ministry, as a 2004 study of chronic renal failure in Jamaica, showed hypertension and diabetes to be the leading conditions present with chronic renal failure. Just over 60 per cent of persons with chronic renal failure have hypertension, while 31.4 per cent present with diabetes.
“It would appear that the government’s policy of removing user fees is directly responsible for the increased access to services, for persons who are suffering from this lifestyle illness,” Mr. Spencer noted.
He said that the Government has made a commitment to the people of Jamaica to make access to health care a fundamental right, as is prescribed by various international human rights instruments to which Jamaica is a signatory.
He also called for more concerted efforts to be made, across the country, to scale up health promotion activities, noting that there was an important contribution to be made by other sectors of the society, including research and academia, education and the NGOs.
CONTACT: GLENIS ROSE
JIS REGIONAL OFFICE