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When we typically hear our ministers speaking about our Health Care System meeting the demands of citizens we genuinely have to wonder, is it a case where they merely use the few exceptional works then make generalizations of how well the health care system of a Jamaica is doing.
Majority of Jamaicans would have visited one general hospital or another because their conditions cannot be taken care of by a general practitioner, or it is extremely expensive to render the service of private hospitals or private doctors. Jamaica’s hospitals are in need of a facelift as if you listen keenly you will undoubtedly hear doctors, nurses and patients crying out.
According to a survey conducted by the World Bank, there are 1.3 doctors per 1000 Jamaicans. As such there are a number of consequences to be considered with this stated ratio. There are a number of times that we hear reports of medical staff members presenting foul attitudes to patients and their companions. This ranges from inappropriate words to body language, and like any other business place we are expecting exceptional customer service from these individuals. However, we need to bear in mind that the limited allocation of resource and the minimal number of staff members present can result in higher stress level and frustration, causing these persons to unintentionally lash out. However, though this is the case, this should not be a given reason for lack of professionalism in the workplace. Patients also need to be mindful of their approach to these individuals as respect is due to both parties.
One of the main cries by Jamaican citizen is the waiting time before they are seen at these institutions. Some patients can wait for 6 to 7 hours before they are examined by a doctor. There are cases, where tests have to be carried out which add to the already lengthy waiting time that persons have to endure. Imagine arriving promptly at the hospital at 7 am and not leaving until 7 pm, just imagine the level of pent-up frustration and tiredness that is brewing.
Within our Jamaican society money is often cited as one of the many reasons why persons fail to receive efficient customer service; as such, it is a concern when visiting public hospitals. We hear persons complain that one has to have money in order to have proper health care and many people can attest to this being true, from youths to the elderly. This should not be the case when government ministers are claiming to be making provisions for the healthcare system. The question lies, is the money being properly invested in these systems?
Another issue that our hospitals are facing is the lack of equipment, and it is only our medical staff that can speak out against such situations. However, it is evident there is a lack of supplies when persons have to wait for months or even years to undergo a surgery or test administered. At the same time, it is not only major supplies which account for the shortage, but as cited in one Jamaica Observer article, there was complain about basic amenities running out like hand towels, blood tests, and beds. There are cases where patients who have been admitted have to sleep on benches, or on beds outside simply because there are not enough beds in the facilities. These situations are deemed inappropriate and unfortunate.
All these issues mentioned should not be the case since our government ministers have revealed countless times that they are investing heavily in Jamaica’s healthcare system. Yet, we need to be mindful that with COVID 19 being the new normal if there is not a restructuring of the health care system we can only see it getting worst and more persons dying in the hands of our overworked nurses and doctors. Furthermore, with Jamaica aiming to be a place to live, work, do business and raise a family, these conditions are unhealthy for vision 2030.