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Time to know and own #HealthRightsJa

0 | 2018-12-10 16:44:00

It’s time for Jamaicans to know and own their health rights. This was one of the main messages coming out of a Civil Society Collaborative Forum (CSCF) working group meeting last week. The meeting saw representatives from different civil society organisations (CSOs) coming together to discuss ways in which patients’ rights can be promoted in Jamaica in an effort to help improve the nation’s overall healthcare system.

Professor Wendel Abel, team lead for the Partnership for the Promotion of Patients’ Rights in Maternal, Neonatal & Infant Health in Jamaica (MNIH) -the project out of which the CSCF was formed- noted, “When you educate citizens about their rights, you raise the level expectation from their governments and health care providers. And when the expectation of care on the part of citizens is raised, citizens will affirm their rights.” He went on to explain that this can lead to citizens helping to elevate the overall standard of care in their communities.

In a presentation on ‘Using the Law to Advance Human Rights in Patients’ Care Advocacy’, Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry reminded the group of the success of the lobby for paid maternal leave in Jamaica. She urged them to act with a similar degree of diligence and determination, emphasising the importance of Jamaicans knowing and owning their health rights.

Dr Althea Bailey, from the Department of Community Health and Psychiatry at the University of the West Indies (UWI), gave a brief introduction to the training manual which will be used as a teaching and advocacy tool by over 24 CSOs. She highlighted the fact that a framework within which patients can affirm their rights already exists, but noted that many Jamaicans are not aware of, and do not use it.

Making specific reference to the South East Regional Health Authority’s Client Charter of Rights, she listed patients’ rights to access to services addressing their health care needs, safety, respect, communication, participation, information, privacy and comment.

MNIH is a European Union-funded project jointly implemented by the UWI Department of Community Health & Psychiatry and the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC). The CSCF was formed out of MNIH as a space for dialogue and advocacy among Jamaican CSOs to address health rights issues including stigma, discrimination, and the complaints and redress system. MNIH posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as @HealthRightsJa.

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