THE GLEANER, WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 2021 | www.jamaica-gleaner.com | E1 SECTION E T HE MINISTRY of Health and Wellness acknowledges the significant role of family doctors in addressing the health challenges of our ageing population, and joins with the local chapter of the Caribbean College of Family Physicians in saluting family doctors across the island, as we observe World Family Doctor Day 2021. This past year has been one of the most challenging years in healthcare and has highlighted the sterling work performed by members of the healthcare team each year; but COVID-19 has further highlighted that you are truly healthcare heroes. COVID-19 has caused a lot of panic among families and, in these critical times, patients look to the expertise of family doctors for guidance and vital information regarding best practices. We join with the World Health Organization, which has dubbed 2021 the Year of the Health and Care Worker, to salute our family doctors and thank you for continuing to blaze a trail of excellence in serving members of the population. As a part of the battalion that accounts for a major part of the technical human resource in the health sector, family health is all the better because of your hard work and dedication to the task at hand daily. Family doctors will also play a key role in the universal health and primary care renewal. Jamaica is committed to the attainment of universal health coverage by 2030. We are steadfast in our goals, with a clear intention to leave no one behind; to ensure that our population will attain the highest standard of healthcare provided by a motivated network of professionals. Again, I commend all family doctors and salute you, especially on this occasion, for your commitment to your profession. Thank you. CHRISTOPHER TUFTON Minister of Health & Wellness You are healthcare heroes THEWORLDOrganization of National Colleges, Academies and Academic Associations of General Practitioners/ Family Physicians (WONCA) established May 19 as a day to highlight the role and contribution of general practitioners/ family doctors and primary care teams in healthcare systems around the world. This was done to bring to the fore the role of our general practitioners/family doctors in the delivery of healthcare to all our patients. The international theme for 2021 is ‘Building the Future with Family Doctors!’ This was influenced by the WorldHealth Organization designating 2021 as the Year of the Health Care Worker. As general practitioners/ family doctors, we provide care through the life span – that is care through pregnancy, birth, childhood and adulthood, until death. We are focused on health in its holistic sense, not just in the treatment of disease, but how the individual, family and community stay healthy. As such, the foundations for this year’s theme are: 1) Building the Future with Family Doctors and Primary Care Teams; 2) Building the Future with Family Doctors and Patients; 3) Building the Future with Family Doctors and New Technologies; 4) Building the Future with Family Doctors and YOU! The COVID-19 pandemic has highlightedthe important role thatdoctors working in the community, whether at health centres or private practice, play. In particular, it has highlighted the many partnerships, and collaboration betweenmany sectors of societywith the many disciplines within health that are necessary for health systems to function effectively. Indeed at the centre of it all is the general practitioner/family physician coordinating your care. Thus, aswemarch forward to the future, we do so with you by our side, with your views on the quality and kind of care that you wish to receive as a guide. Therefore, as the North American regional representative, WONCA and the president of the Caribbean College of Family Physicians –Regional, I would wish for you to not only celebrate with us on this day, but to commit to sharing your thoughts and suggestions as we, general practitioners/family doctors, strive to build the healthcare system we deserve. #WorldFamilyDoctorDay #WFDD2021 ( https://www. globalfamilydoctor.com/member/ ForMemberOrganizations/ WorldFamilyDoctorDay.aspx ) PROF MARVIN REID President,WONCANorthAmerica Regional President, Caribbean College of Family Physicians ‘Building the Future with Family Doctors’ Prof Marvin Reid attending to one of his patients. WORLD FAMILY Doctor Day (WFDD) is an annual event that was firstdeclaredbyWONCAin2010.One of themain purposes is to emphasise the critical role and contributions of family doctors in providing excellent healthcare to persons of all ages. It also aims to promote and encourage continued academic pursuits and networking. In2015, theWFDDwas first actively celebrated in Jamaica as a result of the collaborative efforts of physicians fromtheCaribbeanCollege of Family Physicians, the Association ofGeneral Practitioners, Jamaica, and thepostgraduateprogrammeof family medicineatTheUniversityof theWest Indies, Mona. This year’s theme is ‘Health and Wellness in 2021 and Beyond’. The main elements of the celebration are heightening public awareness by sharing information in the media; an academic conference, which will be held virtually; and giving back to the community by making donations to two children’s homes. The contribution of family doctors in health promotion and the holisticmanagement of health is undeniable. Themission of offering comprehensive preventive care and trying to decrease the prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases, which are amajor cause of morbidity andmortality globally, has not abated, even as the world faces the global pandemic of COVID-19. We have had to adapt the way our services are delivered, incorporating technology to allow interactions, despite physical-distancing requirements, where possible. Additionally, we have been crucial in promoting and encouraging the behaviour changes necessary to reduce the spread of this deadly virus and counteracting widespread misinformation and disinformation. We ourselves are not immune to the ravages of the pandemic. Incorporated into this year’s activities isadeliberateandmindful recognition of the personal experiences of family doctors with the disease, some of whomunfortunately succumbed. Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to express appreciation to all family doctors, and indeed, all healthcare workers on this occasion ofWorld Family Doctor Day. Thank you for the great work you do every day, despite enormously challenging circumstances, in supporting the health and well-being of your patients, your community, your nation and the world! DR ANDREA PURAI Chairperson – WFDD Planning Committee Why family doctors celebrate WFDD across the world Meaning of WFDD during the COVID crisis TWENTY-TWENTY HAS been a challenging year for the whole world and, by extension, Jamaica, due largely to the advent of the COVID- 19 pandemic. It has impacted direct face-to-face human interaction and strained communication and international relations. Our economy, educational systems, healthcare delivery and maintenance systems have also suffered. This has forced the adoption of alternative means of patient care delivery such as telemedicine. As far as illnesses are concerned, there was a marked increase in morbidity and mortality worldwide. In Jamaica, the local experience was no different and the country’s death toll continued to rise unabated. The medical fraternity was not spared this fate. The year 2020-2021 claimed the lives of at least 20 of our doctors and their relatives! But in the midst of the chaos, hope remains, as many other doctors who contracted COVID-19 survived and have made good recovery. Jamaica mourns for her citizens, and at this time we need a spirit of love and caring and the mending of relationships to bring about our healing. Despite pervasive negativity, we know that God continues to guide the hands of faith to bring about positive changes in our lives. We hope that from the ashes of COVID will emerge a brand new world, and a brand new Jamaica. We ask God’s blessings on all persons. We commit into his hands all doctors and their patients who have died during this past year and extend to their families and friends our deepest sympathy and condolences. We ask our merciful God to give them peace, strength and comfort during their time of bereavement. We pray for our country, Jamaica, for the enrichment of our citizens and for our doctors to share their time, talent and treasure with those in need. God of mercy and kindness, heal us all. A prayer of peace by ST Francis of Assisi reads in part as follows: O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek To be consoled as to console; To be understood, as to understand; To be loved, as to love; For it is in giving that we receive, It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen. Let us seek to live the life that Christ taught us: One of loving, sharing, forgiving, empathising and understanding each other. DR SENI ONONUJU President of Caribbean College of Family Physicians 2020 vs COVID-19 pandemic A YEAR OF CHALLENGES Dr Seni Ononuju hard at work.