Black Immigrant Daily News
Hundreds of Jamaican medical professionals are to benefit from free bespoke paediatric resuscitation training from PAIRS, a network of medical consultants, doctors and nurses from Ireland.
The training, which is being done in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, with support on the ground from digital operator Digicel, will run from Monday, February 6 to Thursday, February 9.
The 15-member team, which includes eight doctors and four nurses, arrived in the island from Ireland on Friday.
The PAIRS team is headed by its founder, Dr Ike Okafor, who is currently clinical director, Children’s Health Ireland (CHI), associate professor at University College Dublin (UCD), consultant in paediatric emergency medicine in CHI Temple Street, and senior clinical lecturer at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
Okafor’s wife, Sherene Powell, a special-needs education specialist and chair of the Jamaicans in Ireland Diaspora group, was integral in getting the medical team to visit the Caribbean island for similar training of medical professionals as they’ve done in other countries like Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria, since its formation in 2015.
Powell has never forgotten her homeland, and she has made giving back part of her life’s work.
In Ireland, the couple, through their volunteerism, has attracted a huge team of like-minded altruistic individuals.
The Jamaicans in Ireland Diaspora group is playing an integral role in ensuring the training by PAIRS, set for the Ministry of Health’s training centre in downtown Kingston, will run smoothly.
Powell told Loop News a day before the arrival of the team that the training is geared towards paediatric doctors and nurses.
“We are hoping that this training helps to just give a little more experience to what they have already, to build on the skills that they have in an emergency setting, as well,” she said.
“One of the main things why the PAIRS started the course, as well, was the cost of doctors getting trained. It was so expensive, so it was a way of saying those doctors or nurses, especially the junior ones, who cannot afford to pay these big fees for training… they could use it to keep their skills up,” she explained.
Ethlyn Thomas, liaison officer in charge of international affairs at Jamaicans in Ireland Diaspora, said CPR training will also be a feature.
The training is at full capacity, with more than 200 medical staff enrolled over four days.
In fact, the demand was so great that they had to implement a cut-off for enrollment.
“We are hoping to have 40 persons per day for the first three days…, and then we are hoping on Thursday, we will see at least up to 80 participants,” Powell told Loop News.
PAIRS, because of its close ties with Mustard Seed in Ireland, chose Mustard Seed Community (MSC) in Jamaica as a charity partner and will train more than 40 caregivers and staff at the MSC’s Jerusalem in Spanish Town, St Catherine, as well.
Members of the PEARS team who arrived in Jamaica from Ireland on Friday gear up for an eventful week of volunteerism.
Powell explained that everyone who works with the children will be exposed to similar resuscitation training procedures and other aspects of healthcare.
Additionally, she said the focus will also be placed on safeguarding children from abuse.
While the medical team has given up their time and talents and has funded their travel and accommodation expenses in Jamaica, there was the need for logistical and operational support on the ground in Jamaica for the delivery of this project.
That’s where Digicel came to the rescue.
Powell said when the time was finalised for the trip to Jamaica, the group approached Digicel, and, as they say, the rest is history.
“They (Digicel) are doing way more than they are doing. They have been unbelievable… and have gone above and beyond,” she said, adding that without Digicel, “we definitely don’t think we would have reached where we are right now.”
Meanwhile, PAIRS expects to continue the training partnership with health officials in Jamaica in the coming years.
Powell explained that “the aim is also to build a team in that country”, where the knowledge and skills imparted by PAIRS will be shared by those participants with their colleagues over time.
“When they (PAIRS) do the training, they would then look for participants who they think were strong, who would have the same kind of ethos that they have, and then they would give them extra training and start to build the team so that they can continue it back in the country,” she stated.
“If the Ministry (of Health and Wellness) is happy with what is being done and where the programme goes, then they’ll come back next year, and this time it will be with the aim of how we can set up the training so they can continue it on their own without the extra expenses that doctors and nurses (have with paid training),” indicated the head of the Jamaicans in Ireland Diaspora group.
Thomas, in the meantime, lauded the several stakeholders who have come on board to make the training possible.
Among them are Digicel, the PAIRS team, Mustard Seed Communities (MSC) Jamaica, MSC Ireland, the Jamaicans in Ireland Diaspora, the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ), the Medical Association of Jamaica, and the Jamaican Diaspora Health Taskforce.