Jamaicans are being prepared to mount an effective and sustained response to the scourge of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which are responsible for more than 70 per cent of deaths each year, as well as for people dying young.
This is so as the Ministry of Health & Wellness progresses the rollout of the Chronic Care Model (CCM), which emphasises a patient-centred approach to managing the growing NCDs problem, which sees some 1 in 3 Jamaicans living with hypertension and 1 in 8 with diabetes.
The situation is made more alarming by data from the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey (2016/17), which reveals that 1 in 2 Jamaicans are overweight or obese – a risk factor for developing NCDs – while 4 of every 10 people with hypertension or diabetes are unaware of their status.
It is against this background that the Ministry, through its Health Systems Strengthening Programme (HSSP), is rolling out the CCM, as part of a pilot, at the St. Jago Park, Greater Portmore, Old Harbour, May Pen West, and St. Ann’s Bay health centres.
With appropriate training, health care providers at these facilities and at the community level are being made ready to better work as part of multidisciplinary teams (MDTs), to coordinate the care for patients registered, at this time, for the treatment of hypertension and diabetes.
The MDTs include nurses, doctors, specialists, community health workers, social workers, dieticians, health educators, exercise technicians, pharmacists, mental health workers and dentists, among others.
Effective teamwork among these individuals is globally recognised as a best practice for strengthening health systems and achieving better health outcomes.
As the CCM is rolled out, the Ministry is, therefore, giving careful attention to defining the roles of team members in planning and delivering care, as well as to the promotion of mutual respect and trust, and better use of each person’s skills for greater effectiveness across the health system.
Since April 2023, the MDT at the May Pen West Health Centre in Clarendon, for example, has enrolled more than 120 patients as part of the CCM, with coordinated care and support provided according to specific care pathways and treatment guidelines. Services are currently targeted at populations with special needs who are at risk of cardiovascular complications such as stroke, heart, kidney, eye and other circulatory diseases.
Through the HSSP, which is financed by the Inter-American Development Bank and the European Union, together with funds from the Government of Jamaica, health facilities islandwide will receive more resources and improved infrastructure to help prevent and treat NCDs.
With the CCM, informed patients are linked with prepared and proactive health care workers even as facilities are provided with organizational support, including clinical information systems and community resources are leveraged – all for better decision-making and self-management support by providers and patients alike.