Jamaican health care gets failing grade

Author : teriann

I can guarantee that no one wants to be in need of medical attention.   Added to the obvious fact that no one has perfect health there is always the likelihood of being at a hospital because of an accident.   I recently had that truth brought home to me when I was faced with my own health crisis.

Jamaican hospitals are not the most soothing place to be when you are trying to get help.   I waited to be given assistance for four hours but there were people who waited much longer and who were suffering in various degrees.

Why was there such a long wait? There were certainly enough doctors on staff who seemed quite qualified. I also realized that the patients who complained fared no better than those who waited patiently.

As I waited, I wondered when we the consumers had become so disposable that we were not given urgent attention. Perhaps it is best to say it this way, “He who feels it knows it”.

So why is our health care system failing? Is the no user fee policy the true culprit?

What do you think? Let me hear from you!!

Teri Ann Renee Paisley (Gleaner on-line writer)

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24 Responses to “Jamaican health care gets failing grade”

  1. crazyjamaica says:

    really sad to see such statements. We have some of the most educated doctors in the world.Not much emphasis is placed on Health care and manufacturing. I personally believe that Jamaican herbs are a major attraction ,yet it gets so little attention too. What is it going to take ?

  2. A. Franklin says:

    I completely understand your plight; I too shared a similar experience. I spent 7 hours in the hospital; when I got some medical attention the doctor told me I had ‘gas’, and wrote me a prescription at 1 AM. The hospital’s pharmacy wasn’t even open at that point in time. I got frustrated and went to a private doctor the next day, turns out the problem was something completely different.
    The medical system in Jamaica is a complete joke; there needs to be more structure, and improvements.

  3. Kit says:

    Unfortunately hospital wait times are an international problem and are not a definitive indicator of whether or not a health care system is failing. In the Ontario, Canada, one can wait for 12 hours to be seen and the government has set wait times which MUST be met, or funding is reduced. The wait times are made public and can be found at the following web address. http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/waittimes/

    In small hospitals, Emergency room physicians are often working without the support of specialists that can be found in city hospitals. In large city hospitals, they often deal with more serious cases, which extends the wait time. In both cases, if you don’t have enough beds to admit patients, you can’t move them out of the emergency room and into a ward.
    One of the keys is for us to live healthier lives. Reduce the use of plastic and prohibt the burning of rubber tires and plastic and we will do a lot to reduce asthma, for example.
    Better equipment and more community support for our hospitals is also vital and of course, having front line staff, nurses, doctors and cleaning staff is imperative. God bless the health care people who serve us in Jamaica, land we love.

  4. Kenjam2 says:

    The ‘no user fee’ is one of the main causes of the failing health care system. We are blessed with great medical personnel and most are caring, but the lack of cash hinders caring and we have played around this issue for much too long. The politics of the day has put us way behind countries that are less blessed with medical personnel and cash to care.

  5. teriann says:

    Well Kenjam2 since it takes ‘cash to care’ we have to find a way to financially support our health care system.

  6. dr@jamaicanhospital says:

    To respond: I currently work at the biggest and best free health care institution in Jamaica, and the problems we face are way too much to type out here, but there is def. a failure of the current Jamaican health care system. Free Health Care will never work……..
    Jus to shed light on a few areas…. there is a shortage of staff, there is a shortage of resources, there is still alot of top doctors left in the health care system but without the appropriate tools-useless, there is too much politics and corruption hindering improvements, there is also the fact that most patients either dont understand the nature of thier illness or jus dont care to live a healthy lifestyle, there is the ever so often abuse of medical personnel by patients or relatives (both physically and verbally), waiting times will only increase unless something is done….. and the issues go on…. I can only encourage my fellow Jamaicans to continue impressing on the government to hastily make improvements as both patients and medical personnel are suffering dearly..

    Working In Jamaica In The Public System Is Like Digging Out Of A Black Hole, But What Motivates Me: Def Not The Pay… cause that is really not much… but the love of helping people.

  7. Audrey says:

    I have been working in the health field for many many years and this time is the worst I have ever seen. Apart fron the monetary constrain I think there is a shift from service to monetary gain. When you look at the body language of some of these health care worker I certainly think that they are saying “I am in control so if you cannot wait move to the next service station” Health workers we too will be sitting in one of those seats one day..maybe not where you are working but where nobody knows you..remember the seed we sow today we reap tomorrow.

  8. zarina says:

    The health care system was in a bad state from the beginning and has become worse from the free health care has been established. The free health care has doubled the amount of patients that use the health care system but the staff remain the same.
    Majority of the jamaican nurses and doctors seek employment in other countries that appreciate there services.
    That leave the jamaican patient to be cared for by the bermies and indians expatriates who are clueless. Majority of them don’t have a clue.
    Anyway they r not the real cause, the free health care was a political strategy that didn’t work. Money that the hospital are given to run the hospital for the year are used to pay for the debts that r owed to there suppliers from the year before.

    My conclusion is all who can pay let them pay, or just establish a user fee that covers everything.

    You think it is bad at 4 hrs check bustamante where patients sometime wait 24 hrs in a ER. If they r for admission and the ward is full they sit outside in the night. The therapy is cut short to accomodate new patients.

  9. Kit says:

    Cash to care? You mean like the United States, where people DIE because they don’t have money to see a doctor? Where it costs $450,000 US for a liver transplant! Where a hospital stay can cost you your house? Canada has a wonderful system – Universal health care. It provides care no matter how much or how little cash the patient has. Having said that, I am fully cognizant that there needs to be money in a sysytem like that. Every country that has instituted universal health care has struggled with the question – why should I pay for others- the answer is because we CARE for our fellow countrymen and because health care should be a RIGHT not a privilege. Any government that seeks to provide free healthcare should be applauded. We need to be more mindful of our health, but when we need CARE, it should not be dependent on CASH. Taxing tobacco and fineing polluters and putting the money towards healthcare would go a long way in helping Jamaica, land we love.

  10. Elias Merrih says:

    Hello blogger, I must admit that your post Iconsumer » Jamaican health care gets failing grade : A Jamaica Gleaner Blog is really good. These tips are very useful. Thanks. Elias Merrih

  11. teriann says:

    Dr@jamaicanhospital it is my hope that something changes because soon we will lose even the doctors who want to stay and help improve the system. Don’t stop trying to make a difference and keep fighting the good fight!

  12. Renegade says:

    dr@jamaicanhospital said “there is too much politics and corruption hindering improvements”
    How will that change? I agree that this is one of the primary reasons for the state of healthcare specifically. Those who make decisions regarding the healthcare system benefit privately when the same system fails. Fox in the hen house would be an understatement. Residents of Jamaica you are being taken for a ride by those in charge of the healthcare system. Sad that most are not elected officials, they are the experts on the island, so they know what is best.

  13. Rain says:

    It not not difficult to understand why Jamaica health care gets failing grade. For 1. we are, not a first world country, we do not have the resources nor the discipline of a first world country yet still we are implementing policies and procedures that mimics a first world.

    2. When these policies are put in effect they are not monitored by the respective agents to see to it that the goals and objectives are achieved.

    3. Simply put there is no structure. Government usually have good intentions but lack structure… no one took the time out to measure the pros and cons of making such a catastrophic decision. that is who will benefit from such a scheme, how will it be funded? clearly you cannot depend on persons already burdened by an heart wrenching tax system to fork out more money to pay for persons health care who probably and will never work a day in their life.

    4.There are no clause or conditions to these “FREE PLANS” after all nothing in life is free it must cost someone or something. Government need to put a cap on these policies.
    What i am sayin is its ok for a woman to have more than enuf children she can care for because she wont ask to pay anything at the hospital.

    Look my fellow Jamaicans we all need to act responsible and take responsibility of our lives, our future and in turn our country. so we need to treat each other with respect and dignity and not abuse or caused to be abuse by something just because its free.

  14. Wow! I thought this only happens in Philippines. When I saw this post and read it, I can clearly say that there is always a common situation here and outside world. This is really not acceptable and needs some attention from the government. I really want to urge some action from the government for this kind of assistance. There are lots of people that needs attention immediately.

  15. teriann says:

    Unfortunately Don, poor health care is not limited to Jamaica. We have to continue to focus on its weaknesses so that they can be addressed.

  16. Nenita says:

    I was pretty pleased to find this web site. I want to to thank you for your time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and I have you book marked to check out new information in your web site.

  17. Briget says:

    Can anyone please confirm the costs of seeking medical treatment for children in Jamaica.
    If you go to a public hospital do you pay? If you go to a private hospital do you pay? Also do you have to pay for medication/prescriptions for children if you go to either private or public facilities.

    Thank you in advance

  18. teriann says:

    Well Briget if you go to a public hospital with a child in Jamaica, the treatment is free as well as the medication at the hospital’s pharmacy. The reality is however that the long wait for attention as well as the often unavailability of medication makes the private hospital route more attractive. The private hospitals charge a flat rate to see the doctor which can increase depending on each case. Hope this info helps.

  19. The perceptive one says:

    I think yesterday and today was a good incentive on why i should try to keep healthy to avoid the hospital.Although, you might be feeling ill, the very thought of going to the doctor churns your stomach.The reason why i said this is because i went to the hospital yesterday feeling ill but i left feeling very disgusted at the system.
    I don’t think i will ever hold a doctor in the highest esteem again. Somehow, my expectation of them has become very low. I no longer expect doctors to be early,caring,respectfully. However,i did meet a nice doctor today thus showing that even though majority have fail few good ones are still out there.
    The main reason why i think doctors think they have the authority to treat patient with unkindness is because the health system is free.

  20. With increase private investment in the sector Jamaica could easily become a Medical Tourism Destination. The challenge is infrastructure and insurance. It has to be affordable to be attractive.

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  23. Andrea Erbst says:

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  24. teriann says:

    Thanks for your kind words Andrea. Keep visiting the blog!

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