Health Workforce Planning Seminar In Progress

November 21, 2016

Today [Nov 21], representatives from multiple Department of Health disciplines and representatives from the private sector, statutory bodies and quangos participated in the first day of a two-day Health Workforce Planning seminar.

The event features two representatives of the Pan American Health Organization are special guest speakers.

“The Ministry of Health and Seniors is undertaking health workforce planning as part of the Bermuda Health Strategy 2014-2019. The priority is to complete a comprehensive health workforce situation analysis and create a guidance document for future workforce planning,” a spokesperson said.

“In preparation, broad consultation has taken place with healthcare professionals and statutory bodies, insurers, Workforce Planning and the Department of Immigration.

Bermuda’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Cheryl Peek-Ball; Minister of Health and Seniors Jeanne Atherden; PAHO/WHO Representative to Jamaica, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands Dr Noreen Jack; Advisor, Health System and Services at the PAHO/WHO office for Jamaica, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, Dr Hedwig Goede:

Minister Atherden-Health Workforce Planning (2)

Minister of Health and Seniors, Jeanne Atherden gave the opening remarks.

Regarding the guest speakers, a spokesperson said, “Dr Noreen Jack, a national of Trinidad and Tobago, obtained her medical degree [1981] and a master’s in Public Health from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica [1988].

“She received a post graduate Diploma and a master’s degree in Infectious Diseases from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine [2007 and 2010 respectively].

“Dr Jack joined PAHO in 1989 as Research Fellow for the National Cancer Institute Project at the Caribbean Epidemiology Center [CAREC]. In 1995 she was appointed as Senior Medical Researcher at the Medical Research Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago [MRFTT].

“From 2003-2005, she served as Principal Investigator for the HIV Vaccine Trials Unit, Trinidad. During this period she also worked as Consultant with the CDC Caribbean Regional Office providing technical assistance to Caribbean countries in the area of HIV Prevention, Care and Treatment.

“In 2005, Dr. Jack returned to PAHO as Senior HIV Care and Treatment Advisor at the PAHO/WHO Office in Trinidad and Tobago. In 2012, she was appointed Senior Advisor for the PAHO HIV Caribbean Office. In 2014, she was appointed PAHO/WHO Representative to Jamaica, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.”

Minister Atherden addresses the participants at the Health Workforce Planning seminar:

Minister Atherden-Health Workforce Planning (1)

“Dr Hedwig Goede has been the Advisor, Health System and Services at the PAHO/WHO office for Jamaica, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, since September 2014.

“At the international level she has worked with PAHO/WHO in several Caribbean countries as well at the headquarters of the World Health Organization in Geneva. Prior to her international work she worked at the national level as a medical doctor in government health services and in national public health programs.

“Her main interest is in strategic planning, Primary Health Care and local health systems strengthening, workforce development as well as transformation processes in health and participatory education.

“She holds a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Michigan and a medical degree from the Anton de Kom University of Suriname.

The remarks by Minister Jeanne Atherden follow below:

Good afternoon, guests and Government team members.

The future healthcare needs of our community are being determined by the changes we see in disease patterns and the demographic shift to an ageing population. Early onset of chronic non-communicable diseases [NCDs] such as diabetes and heart disease will dictate the need for healthcare professionals to address these areas. In particular, there will be demand for a workforce to support the lifestyle changes required to prevent and control these diseases.

We will need a variety of professionals, not simply physicians and nurses. Health educators, psychologists, dieticians, lifestyle coaches, addiction specialists, occupational therapists, physical therapists will be in demand, and not just in Bermuda.

Supporting people in their lifestyle changes and controlling the complications of poorly-treated chronic diseases will require all these skilled professionals and more. And the effort is doubled as it is confounded by our ageing demographic and the associated increase in dementia and Alzheimer’s. As a health system, we have a tall task ahead.

I recognize that each profession has its unique challenges in training, recruiting and retaining professionals. I am pleased that there is broad participation in today’s session to share information about these challenges and ways to overcome them.

My Ministry is committed to making progress toward the goal of universal healthcare, where every person has access to the basic health services they need without suffering financial hardship. I am personally committed to this goal, as reflected in our Bermuda Health Strategy, which we are currently implementing.

To support the goal of universal health coverage, we will need to make sure there are adequate and appropriate healthcare professionals with the right skill sets to provide good preventive and primary care, as well as specialist care, rehabilitation services and palliative care as required.

Input from the Department of Immigration, Workforce Development, professional statutory bodies, professional associations as well as both public and private professionals is key to the development of a sensible approach to meeting the island’s health workforce needs.

There is much to learn from jurisdictions in the region and globally; Bermuda’s exercise is not in isolation. It is heartening to see so many collaborating on this important health system issue.

The Ministry of Health and Seniors team is very grateful for the support of the Pan American Health Organization in this area. Thank you to Dr Noreen Jack and Dr Hedwig Goede for embarking on this mission visit.

Having the support we need is critical to our population. I look forward to gaining insights and hearing advice on strategic planning for Bermuda’s future health workforce needs.

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