The Medical Association of Jamaica


MAJ SYMPOSIUM 2024 (Hybrid)

Resilience in Healthcare! A Global Imperative

June 6-9, 2024

MAJ Symposium


Small Island Developing States like Jamaica face unique developmental, environmental, and health challenges exacerbated by the distal effects of Climate Change and other environmental issues. Many are undergoing an epidemiological transition where there is an increase in the prevalence of obesity and chronic noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease, cancers, and trauma with a concomitant decline in malnutrition in children, while infectious diseases are being dominated by viral infections such as HIV and arbovirus infections. These twin challenges to public health are magnified by the disruptions to physical, biological, and ecological systems caused by environmental threats. The velocity of these effects requires urgent actions to understand, develop and implement adaptive responses to protect our world, and secure our health.  Within this context, the MAJ will host its annual symposium in 2023 with the goals of: 

  1. Identifying the scope of environmental challenges and climate impacts, on populations, and the associated potential health outcomes.
  2. Appraising the evidence for health intervention strategies to mitigate the impact on the environment and health.

The recent Covid 19 pandemic revealed the fragility of health care systems throughout the world and highlighted the need for a more integrated approach to health system strengthening. In Jamaica our healthcare system experienced similar challenges to the rest of the world. It took herculean effort to adjust to the realities of the pandemic.

Developing a resilient health system will ensure that countries can effectively prevent, prepare for, detect, adapt to, respond to, and recover from public health threats while ensuring the maintenance of quality essential and routine health services in all contexts.

Public health emergencies, like those seen with covid-19, uncovered and exacerbated pre- existing health and socioeconomic inequalities within and across societies. Vulnerable groups such as the elderly and children are often disproportionately affected by emergencies. When these emergencies are added to the already fragile health systems the impacts are compounded.

Most definitions of health systems resilience focus on the health system preparedness and response to a severe and acute shock, and how the system can absorb, adapt and transform to changes (Barasa, Cloete & Gilson, 2017) and cope with such. However, with the growing body of literature around health systems resilience, the focus of the definitions has broadened. Today, literature on resilience extends to looking at minimizing exposure (risk and susceptibility) to shocks, which is usually termed as vulnerability (Adger, 2006), and to looking at the management of predictable and enduring system strains or stresses, such as population ageing or increasing incidence of multimorbidity (due possibly to NCD’s), and even to what can be termed everyday resilience, i.e. resilience to stresses that are commonplace and chronic (eg human resources, vaccine hesitancy) (Barasa, Cloete & Gilson, 2017).

In Jamaica we have seen many factors which hindered its resilience. Research has shown that persons over 60 years is the fastest growing segment of the Jamaican population which now accounts for about 15% of our population, it is estimated to reach 20% by 2030. As this continues to grow this will put great strain on the healthcare system due to increasing NCDs.

Over the years we have seen an increase in viral illness and an increase in the number of cases of vaccine preventable diseases. Vaccine hesitancy has been highlighted by WHO as one of the top 10 Global threats to health. In Jamaica we had firsthand experience of this during covid-19 and as such addressing Vaccine hesitancy is of paramount importance in building resilience in our healthcare system.

Greater use of technology innovations such as electronic health records (EHRs), telemedicine, to streamline operations can go a long way to enhance patient care and assess. The greater utilization of minimally invasive surgical techniques can limit the number of days of hospitalization post surgical procedures and the need for added bed space and manpower.

Addressing the chronic human resource shortage in health is also a key factor in building resilience. Worldwide there exist shortage of healthcare personnel with a great pull factor to high income countries as they are able to provide better employment packages and oppurtunity for training and advancement in careers. Longterm planning of healthcare human resource needs is essential if we are going to meet the needs of our citizens in the years to come. This information can be derived from active epidemiological and demographic survillence.

This symposium therefore aims to look at these and other factors provide practical solution to building resilience into the healthcare system in small island developing states like Jamaica.

  1. To disseminate the latest research, best practices, and evidence-based strategies related to resilience in healthcare.
  2. Discuss policy implications and best practices that can enhance the overall resilience of healthcare systems.
  3. Equip healthcare professionals and organizations with the knowledge and tools necessary to improve their preparedness and response to various healthcare challenges, such as pandemics, natural disasters, and public health crises.
  4. Encourage collaboration and communication between different healthcare disciplines, including clinicians, administrators, public health experts, and researchers, to strengthen the overall resilience of the healthcare system.
  5. Discuss the judicious use of pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical technology as tools in building resilience.
  6. To explore the use of technology to enhance healthcare delivery and resilience.

MAJ Symposium



Featured Presenters

Dr. Joy St. John

Dr. St. John was the first Barbadian to hold the position of Chief Medical Officer of Barbados (2005-2017). She also... READ MORE

Professor Niranjan Kissoon

Professor Kissoon is a graduate of UWI and presently the holder of the University of British Columbia (UBC) & BC Children’s Hospital Professor in... READ MORE

Professor Andrew Gumbs

Professor Gumbs is the Director of Advanced Minimally Invasive Surgery Excellence Center at the American Hospital of Tbilisi.... READ MORE

Dr. Patrice Francis-Emmanuel

Patrice Francis-Emmanuel is an internist and endocrinologist at the University Hospital of the West Indies. She lectures... READ MORE

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