Mon | Nov 12, 2018

Church must provide poor with more healthcare, says missionary

Published:Thursday | July 26, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Gareth Patterson, medical student, inspects the mouth of this resident from Whitehall Avenue in St Andrew during a a clinic hosted by Zion Care Foundation International medical mission at the Swallowfield Primary and Junior High School yesterday.

Although his organisation has been able to provide dental and hygienic services to more than 300 residents during his annual medical mission, the Reverend Dr Craig Brown, chairman of Zion Care International, believes that the Church needs to play a greater role in providing access to healthcare to persons in need.

Brown, who was speaking with The Gleaner during the organisation's annual medical mission yesterday, said that he was moved to play a part in catering to the needs of citizens as he believes that the poor continue to be at a disadvantage. He expects that the week-long medical mission will impact as many lives as possible.

"One of the most fundamental aspects of the Church is to give back. It is not a common thing among churches, but if we are to reflect who we serve, which is Christ, then we must reflect the teaching and that is to take care of the poor," he told The Gleaner during a clinic at the Swallowfield Primary School in St Andrew.

"Our concern is the poor, and we have noticed that dental service is something reserved for the rich. The ratio per dentist to an individual in Jamaica is 250,000:1. Even though we have two dental schools here, there is still a wide gap."

He said that the Church must play a more instrumental role.

"The Church has to move away from the traditional fixation on abortion and all these other things and tap into things that are really affecting the poor [like] challenging the Government to provide better health services. The Church doesn't have the luxury of cherry-picking issues. Wrong is wrong and right is right, " argued Brown.

Dr Taylor Addison, who is a part of the overseas medical team, has said that it has been a fulfilling experience giving her time and expertise to assist those who are less fortunate.

"In addition to providing services, we are trying to educate the kids on the importance of oral hygiene. It has been very rewarding. The kids just show you so much love and gratitude," she remarked.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com