Brain Drain

I’ve only worked for 2 days, so this may be premature, but here are my very early observations: (1) Even in Ministry of Health hospitals, many of the medical officers are ex-pats, including Cubans, Burmese (!), and South Asians. It seems many Jamaican doctors emigrate to the US whenever the chance presents itself. Additionally, I am told the cost of medical education in Jamaica is quite high, further causing shortages in health providers. (2) I am surprised by how few “tropical” diseases there are here. For the most part, what I’ve encountered is not unlike what I see in the US: lots of viral URIs, AGEs, constipation, asthma, etc. (3) For good or for bad, practicing in Port Antonio or Annotto Bay is not too unlike practicing in low-income areas in the US. Here, limitations revolve around immediate access to diagnostics; in the US, limitations to treatment can be just as severe based on insurance status or ability to pay. (4) A nice change of pace from other parts of the world: Because of national health coverage, patients can actually get diagnostics and treatments, though they may have to travel 2+ hours to Kingston to do so… it’s uplifting to see after working in areas where even if a diagnostic test or treatment is available, unless payment is offered up front, the patient cannot access these. (5) It’s wonderful to have Dr. Ramos’, the pediatrician for the region, experience. He is practical and has a good sense of local epidemiology. So far, this is already proving to be a great experience. Will have more to report as time goes on.

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