Ageing population increasing demand for health services
Senior Medical Officer and Head of Surgery at the St Ann’s Bay Hospital, Dr Tanya Hamilton-Johnson, has pointed to the need for expansion of public health services to meet the needs of Jamaica’s ageing population.
She noted that more older Jamaicans are turning up at health facilities with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among other conditions.
“What we are seeing is that the ageing population is related to quite an increase in the number of cases of diabetes, hypertension and the associated complications, and so we are seeing a lot of burden coming from that group,” she said, adding that “mental health illnesses, also impact on that.”
Hamilton-Johnson was speaking at the St Ann leg of the ‘Dialogue for Development Series’ hosted by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) in Ocho Rios recently.
She said it is critical that older people be empowered to take care of their health so that they can continue to make a valuable contribution to the country.
“This is a very powerful group. Many times I had the opportunity to sit with them and talk with them about their lifestyle. I think there is so much potential from this group in terms of productivity, but in order to be productive you have to be healthy so, therefore, I will start with preventive,” she said.
In the meantime, Hamilton-Johnson has called for volunteers at the community level to assist the dependent ageing population.
“They are not accompanied by anybody at hospital, they live by themselves, and they don’t understand the quantity of medication to take.
“So, again, we need a little intervention; getting volunteers to assist in helping an ageing person in advising them how to take medication, following up on them, ensuring that they come to the clinic,” she noted.
The Dialogue for Development Series is intended to examine the correlative social, economic and environmental implications of ageing on sustainable development, and facilitate discussions on how ageing can influence policy formulation in various sectors.
- JIS News