During the COVID-19 pandemic, various diaspora organisations and individuals contributed $300 million to Jamaica’s healthcare sector.
Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, the island’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), revealed this at the recent Diaspora Conference Health and Wellness session.
While discussing recent developments in the sector, the CMO stated that representatives of the Jamaican diaspora continue to play an important role in the island’s healthcare sector’s growth.
“We are overjoyed to have the diaspora on with us.” You’ve been around for a while, but I believe there’s even more room for you now. “When we look at the last 2 years with COVID, the diaspora made a contribution of over $300 m in equipment and supplies, so we recognise that you are a big force which we need to join and ensure that we’re integrated in our approach,” said Dr Bisasor-McKenzie.
Dr. Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health and Wellness, also thanked diaspora members for their help in assisting Jamaica through one of the world’s worst health crises.
“The diaspora has contributed or donated approximately 6% of our budget in one form or another, whether through personnel and expertise or equipment gifts,” Minister Tufton said.
The minister also stated that the Ministry of Health and Wellness has a diaspora unit to assist with donations and contributions.
The CMO also urged Jamaica and diaspora members to continue their collaboration, stating that there are other ways they can help the island’s healthcare sector, like telemedicine and the creation of a database to allow for the reappointment of healthcare experts in the diaspora.
Many Jamaican medical personnel, including nurses, have expressed a strong desire to return to the island and serve, according to Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie.
Claudette Powell, a registered professional nurse, agreed with the CMO and encouraged the diaspora to seek ways to assist Jamaica.
“The diaspora is able and willing to positively contribute to the transformation of Jamaica’s health and wellness services if we are acknowledged as stakeholders and entitled to share our expertise.” Powell added, “I also want to appeal to the global diaspora to seek opportunities for Jamaica.”
According to the CMO, the government plans to transform the health sector in the coming years and will actively seek assistance from diaspora members, particularly in areas of expertise.