Health

Maternal, infant health champions give ministry's complaints mechanism the nod

Sunday, November 26, 2017

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THE Ministry of Health's complaints mechanism has received the stamp of approval from stakeholders involved in a project to promote patients' rights and responsibilities in maternal, neonatal and infant health (MNIH) in Jamaica.

“The minister of health (Dr Christopher Tufton) and his team should be commended for this initiative. It is consistent with current health care strategies, which are client-based and rights-driven,” Professor Wendel Abel, a University of the West Indies (UWI) representative on the project called 'Partnership for the Promotion of Patients' Rights in MNIH in Jamaica', is quoted as saying in a recent release.

“We want to congratulate the ministry on implementing a complaints mechanism and providing the public with the results. We are aware of how sensitive this issue is,” added Kristin Fox, coordinator for the project, which is being implemented by the Women's Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC) and the UWI.

Launched in April, the release said the project is to strengthen patients' rights, engender a sense of personal responsibility among users of the health care system, and improve the role and effectiveness of civil society in advocacy for MNIH. This is to be achieved through, among other things, the establishment of an inter-civil society organisation consultative forum and an agreed framework to receive and resolve complaints, the release said.

News broke recently that more than 100 complaints were lodged with the ministry in the first three months of the year. Of that number, only 13 per cent were reportedly resolved and five per cent closed. One per cent was referred; another one per cent was handled by the Medical Review Panel; and 80 per cent is still to be resolved.

Fox said: “We recognise that this is a work in progress, but we are concerned about the pace of the resolution of the complaints.”

Linnette Vassell, advocacy specialist with WROC, agreed.

“The complaints received and the ministry's response show that there is growing consensus about the need to address human rights and responsibilities in health care, and to bring local communities and their organisations to the centre of decision-making. People are ready to engage in this process and we must ensure that a collaborative framework is developed and managed with accountability, respect and compassion,” she said.

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