Doctors urged to support patients' rights

Sunday, February 11, 2018

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JAMAICA'S medical doctors were urged last weekend to join the effort to champion patients' rights.

The call came from Linnette Vassell, advocacy specialist with the 'Partnership for the Promotion of Patients' Rights in Maternal, Neonatal and Infant Health (MNIH) in Jamaica' project.

Vassell, addressing the annual ethics conference of the Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association at Mona Visitors' Lodge and Conference Centre in Kingston on February 4, urged physicians to support the strengthening of the patients' complaints and redress system in which the project is involved.

She also encouraged them to “uphold and promote principles of non-discrimination, equality, transparency, accountability, and participation” in their provision of care.

“Medical ethics is embedded in human rights and, therefore, the promotion of patients' rights should be a part of your agenda,” she told the doctors.

The European Union (EU)-funded project is being jointly implemented by the Women's Resource and Outreach Centre, where Vassell is based, and The University of the West Indies' Department of Community Health and Psychiatry.

The three-year initiative, which forms one component of the larger Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC), aims to strengthen patients' rights and engender a sense of personal responsibility among users of the health care system.

It is also geared at improving the role and effectiveness of civil society and other partners in advocacy for MNIH.

A civil society consultative forum on patients' rights — work on which began last year, with a series of focus group discussions and a stakeholder workshop — is currently taking shape, even as the communication campaign to raise public awareness and support advocacy on maternal and child health is rolled out.

Speaking at the stakeholder workshop last November, Livia Galita, project manager with the delegation of the EU to Jamaica, noted the initiative's value.

“The action followed calls for greater levels of synergies between the relevant stakeholders involved in the health chain through a continuous dialogue, analysis, studies, trainings, workshops, and dissemination of information to the wider public, so as to increase the awareness on health-related rights and responsibilities,” she said.

“In particular, it aims at applying a human rights-based approach to health — emphasising the right to benefit from the highest achievable standard of health, including sexual and reproductive health. I hope that many other projects of a similar nature will come to build upon its results,” added Galita, who spoke on behalf of Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, head of the EU delegation.

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