Saturday, 30 May 2020

WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE: Jamaica’s CMO Dr. Jacquiline Bissasor-McKenzie aims for significant impact via her work in the health-care system

WOMAN IN CHARGE: “A lot of people don’t like making unpleasant decisions,” says Bissasor-McKenzie, “but I don’t consider them to be unpleasant decisions.” 

THE COVID-19 health crisis has morphed into a modern-day godzilla, with horns the size of the World Trade Centre Towers. Here in Jamaica, one woman stands armed and fearless on the frontlines as the Jamaican authorities take the bull by the horns. 

By her own admission, Dr. Jacquiline Bissasor-McKenzie, our Chief Medical Officer (CMO), is used to mammoth challenges and relishes them. But the advent of the coronavirus – with its relentless pursuit of victims – has brought her one of the toughest experiences of her professional career in the medical field. “I constantly feel as if I am in a boat going through a storm, and I’m trying to keep the boat on the right track,” she revealed in a recent sit-down interview with All Woman. “But there are many courses that can be taken, and I have to hold tight to the wheel.”

Thrust into the glare of the public spotlight, Bissasor-McKenzie has been arduously helping the Prime minister and the Minister of Health make the best decisions as Jamaica and countries across the globe weather the storm. “A lot of people don’t like making unpleasant decisions, but I don’t consider them to be unpleasant decisions,” says Bissasor-McKenzie, a St. Jago High alumna and mother of two children, who are now both successful doctors. “I consider them making the best decision, then dealing with the unpleasantness after.”

That said, the COVID experience has only sought to bolster her commitment to her job and the wider national efforts to improve Jamaica’s health-care system. “I have recognized several challenges that we’ve had over the years in our health system, and I just want to do my part to make it better, by putting the basic systems in place,” says the Clarendon-by-way-of-Trelawney native, who took over as CMO in 2018. “My focus will be on building and strengthening the foundation.”

She adds, “My aim has always been to do what I do until I can do no more.”

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