Dr. Christopher Tufton, Jamaica’s Minister of Health & Wellness, a new moniker for the ministry, addressed the Diaspora Conference Delegates on June 18, 2019. He began his presentation with a report card on the nation’s medical status as of 2017-2018. The topic “Engaging health & wellness agenda, where we are now and where we are going?” set the context for those who would follow with presentations on the panel.
Nation’s medical report card
The Minister reported 1.2 million visits in 2018 and 40,000 surgeries, 32,000 babies delivered, which is an increase he said “although we are growing at a shrinking rate .”
He reported 2.9 mil. (million) Public health overall visits to health centers & hospital facilities over the past two years. Compared to 2.5 mil. In 2017 to the health centers & hospitals - 1.6 mil and 1.2 mil. respectively the previous year. Admissions totaled 187,000 with a minimum stay of 5 days or less.
The fact is that the nation’s population is aging; this will place a burden on their families, government and by extension the working citizens over the next 10-20 yrs. How prepared is the Health Ministry in dealing with this eventuality? How will this affect the working population?
The Health & Wellness Minister looked at the Sustainable development goals which he says “we all subscribe to as countries includes good health and wellbeing. We have a mandate as government that our people have good health and state of mind, wellbeing is preserved. We are striving to do that in a number of ways.”
Building Pathways for Sustainable Development
Our health profile says we’re are not much different from the rest of Caribbean, nor other parts of the world regarding NCD’s (non-communicable diseases). The latest 2019 Health & Lifestyle Survey reports that 1 in 3 Jamaicans are hypertensive, 1 in 8 diabetics. 50% of our population is obese or overweight. Obesity in our schools has doubled in the last seven years. Cancers constitute the second most common group of NCDs and many die in the prime of their lives. The risk of developing cancer before age 75 in Jamaica is 21.2% in females. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the world and is the 5th leading cause of death in women. (Jamaica Health & Lifestyle Survey 2019).
The Minister stressed that we have to invest more and do more to change the lifestyles of Jamaicans that are causing their demise. The economic consequence of our current state, sick profile, of our nation, for example in the next 15 yrs. will cause us not to prosper as we should. This is where building pathways for sustainable development comes into the picture for Health & Wellness.
Within this context, the Minister invited the Diaspora delegates to extend Jamaica Moves from Barbados, Trinidad, UK and New York to other areas to foster healthy lifestyle growth. He challenged them to create new and innovative programmes and then share those outcomes with a cause (organizations) in Jamaica. The Minister assured the Diaspora delegates that Jamaica Moves is endorsed by PAHO, WHO and CARICOM, and Jamaica is leading the case against non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
In addition, the Minister listed other areas of engagement for consideration by the Diaspora:
- Investment opportunities
- Public private partnerships (PPP)
- Centers of Excellence for Training & Co-branding
- Health information system (Going to market soon.)
- Training of Nurse and Doctor Specialists
- Health Tourism
- Envisioned two private hospitals in Jamaica
- Adopt-A-Clinic Program
Adopt A-Clinic Intervention
CaribNewsroom was prepared to offer the following suggestion when the Q & A session was cut due to lack of time. Within the Ministry of Health & Wellness should be a task force or committee that guides the process of Diasporic integration of Jamaica Moves from region to region nationally and internationally; the outcomes should be communicated regularly via the Ministry’s Website or a Social Network group channel or “Diaspora Moves Newsletter”.
In addition, an “International Diaspora Moves Conference & Expo” should be created in Jamaica and the Caribbean to celebrate the Healthy Wholistic Lifestyle which embraces Yoga, Qigong, Preventative exercises for all ages, Ethical Raw Food and other proven wellness practices to halt the spread of NCDs.
Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (second right), interacting with Dr. Richard Manning (right) and patients of the Seaview Gardens Health Centre in Kingston during a ceremony on April 30, when the clinic was formally adopted by Massy Distribution (Jamaica) Limited under the Ministry of Health’s Adopt-a-Clinic programme.
Contact: Sharon Parris-Chambers