Aberdeen residents benefit from free health care
Each year, a group of doctors and their team from the American Jamaican Link Charitable Foundation visit Jamaica to provide free health care and medication for residents in St Elizabeth. Recently, the group, consisting of 17 members from the United States, visited the Aberdeen Health Centre as part of three days of clinic held in the parish. Chief executive officer and co-founder of the foundation, Dr Clyde Green, said that the team consisted of physicians, a dentist, nurse practitioners and other support personnel. He said although some of them have been coming to the island since 1995, the foundation was officially established in 1999.
"We come to Jamaica twice a year - in March, we do a mobile mission from place to place, and in July, we are in Parottee. Twice a year we go to Africa - we go to Kenya in October and in December to Nigeria. "It's our third year in Aberdeen, but we have been coming to Jamaica since 1995. Four years ago, Dr [Kimathi] Blackwood joined our team, and because his parents are from this area, three years ago we started coming to this clinic.
"What we provide is free dental, free medical and free podiatry - which is foot care - to the residents here. The community has been welcoming to us in providing us the clinic to work out of and some of the staff.
Last year, we did Parottee, Aberdeen and Balaclava. This year, we're doing Parottee, Aberdeen and we are going to the Appleton Community Clinic. The reason Parottee is always there is that I'm a native Jamaican by parentage ... that's our home spot, so we always go to Parottee, start there and go out from there," Green explained.
Nephrologist Dr Kimathi Blackwood said that in addition to volunteering his time to work at the clinic, a monetary contribution was made to the Aberdeen Primary and Junior High School, where his grandfather had been principal for many years.
"It's in honour of my grandfather, Mr Cleveland Blackwood, who was headmaster of Aberdeen School from the 1940s to the 1970s. My father was born in Aberdeen and moved to Kingston when he was 11 years old to go to Kingston College. My father had a scholarship to go to a secondary school, and I want to give other Jamaican children an opportunity also.
"Jamaica, [like in] other third world countries, you have brain drain. People get educated then they leave, so you don't have a lot of investment in the country they came from. I want to give back in any way," Blackwood told Rural Xpress. Blackwood added that he hoped that the contribution would assist with the payment of fees for students as well as with the improvement of the school infrastructure to make the school a better training ground as children prepare for the next phase of their learning.