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Doctors too silent: Jamaica Urological Society wants physicians to speak up about impact of govt policies

Published:Sunday | February 22, 2015 | 3:04 PMRichard Mitchell
From left: Dr Tasha Cooke, consultant urologist at Cornwall Regional Hospital; Dr Michael Brooks, president of the Jamaica Urological Society (JUS); and Dr Belinda Morrison, consultant urologist at the University Hospital of the West Indies share a moment just before the start of the JUS symposium at the Jamaica Conference Centre yesterday.

Dr Michael Brooks, president of the Jamaica Urological Society (JUS), has admonished members of his community for not speaking up on issues that have deleterious effects on patients and the society at large.

"We have too long abandoned our roles as clinician advocates. We have allowed ourselves to become silent. We, as medical professionals, need to speak out loudly against policies and positions that will negatively impact the patients we care for," Brooks said.

Brooks, who was speaking at the JUS's annual symposium at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston yesterday, also urged his colleagues to be more involved in discussions with the Government on policy reform.

"We do not believe that enough thought goes into policy reform and their impact on patients. We must insist that we become a more integral part of formulation of health-care policy," he said.

The JUS president cited the abandonment of the no-user-fee policy and de-regionalisation of the health sector as two policies that can save money.

Brooks also bemoaned the absence of a properly run national kidney transplant programme, saying it was not just a failure on the part of the policymakers, but also a failure on the part of Jamaicans collectively.

"We have failed these suffering patients, who are among some of the sickest patients we will see, and yet their care has not become a priority," Brooks continued.

Echoing the JUS president's sentiments, past president of the Medical Association of The Bahamas Dr Robin Roberts also urged health professionals to be advocates for their patients.

"We, as the medical profession, who are the leaders in health care, we have fallen down on leadership," the urological surgeon said.

"We should be the ones out there as advocates. We should be leading the charge, demanding of the Government that this is the level of care we need to have in our society," Roberts said.

The JUS's annual symposium brought together medical professionals - doctors, surgeons, professors, and administrative personnel - from Jamaica and the region to discuss the issue of renal transplantation in Jamaica.

During the conference, it was revealed that for someone who is suffering from end-stage renal disease or chronic kidney disease it costs an average of $3 million per year for dialysis treatment at the University Hospital of the West Indies. Studies have shown that the cost of a transplant would be less.