Almost a year after the Jamaican government and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre signed a memorandum of understanding that set the stage for new levels of collaboration in health care system development in the Caribbean country, the Jamaica Diaspora Canada Foundation (JDCF) staged a two-day forum in the city last week that brought together Jamaican government officials and health professionals in Canada, the United States and England.
Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Luther Buchanan and Arnaldo Brown, who is responsible for the Diaspora and Foreign Trade Portfolios, attended the forum at Sunnybrook’s McLaughlin auditorium.
The theme was “Building Sustainable Partnerships for a Healthy Jamaica”.
Outgoing Jamaican High Commissioner, Sheila Sealy Monteith, welcomed the delegates at a reception at the Westin Prince Hotel.
“It’s a source of pride for the Jamaican Diaspora in Canada that the members have led the charge of this initiative to give tangible expression to the interests which all of us take in strengthening the health sector in Jamaica,” she said. “The presence of two Ministers of State here acknowledges the firm commitment of the Jamaican government to work closely with the Diaspora and other partners to pursue appropriate activities which are critical to achieving the objectives of national development.”
Jamaica and Sunnybrook are exploring a wide range of areas to collaborate in health care with a view to building a long-term partnership where they can learn from each other. Priorities for shared learning in the partnership include the development of systems of care for cancer, emergency pre-hospital care, trauma and emergency medicine, chronic disease management, medical and health information technologies, health human resources training and education, research and innovation platform development, international best practices and health care infrastructure development.
Conference chair and JDCF social services & health director, Kingsley Gilliam, said the conference is ground-breaking.
“It will focus on collaborating with the Jamaica Ministry of Health to achieve the goals established in the 2030 plan for health in Jamaica,” he said. “We assure you that this forum will be life-changing.”
Jamaican-born Ontario minister, Mitzie Hunter, who attended the opening reception, said health care represents a significant political opportunity for the Liberal government in Ontario.
“For us in Ontario, almost 50 per cent of our budget is on health care,” she said. “It’s a very critical part of the work we do here in Ontario. Our focus is putting patients first. We are also focused on responding to the needs where they are in addition to undertaking a transformation of our own that has to do with delivering the right health care at the right time at the right place. We are moving more care out into the community and we want to strengthen and professionalize those that are closest to the patient. That’s something this government is undertaking and we want to do it rapidly. For many reasons, we are motivated to do that.”
Jamaica attracts almost 150 medical missions annually.
By RON FANFAIR