Health fair put off due to violence

Published: Friday | December 11, 2009

Kimesha Walters, Gleaner Writer

Patrick Hylton (left), group managing director, National Commercial Bank (NCB), stands with May Francis Cunningham, acting human resource manager, Carreras Limited, and Christopher Brown, corporate and regulatory affairs manager, Carreras, after they recieved awards on behalf of their companies at the Jamaica Employers' Federation's Employer of Choice Awards ceremony held at the Hilton Kingston hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday. NCB was the overall JEF Employer of Choice for 2008, while Carreras Limited was the Top Small Employer of Choice company for 2008. - Contributed

Over two dozen people seeking medical care were denied the opportunity after a health fair that was scheduled for Wednesday in the volatile Newland community in St Catherine was postponed due to mounting tension in the area.

"We have to secure the citizens there because you don't know what can happen," Ronald Levy, the president of the Newland Citizens' Association told The Gleaner. He added that when there was tension, it is a priority to ensure the security of those in the area.

Levy further explained that tensions have been fluctuating in the area for the past three years, but heightened earlier this week after a demonstration in the community.

"We don't want anybody to come out and get trapped in any shooting," he added, while explaining that over 24 people who turned up for the fair were disappointed at the postponement.

Held for three years

The health fair has been held in Newland for the last two to three years, catering sometimes to over 100 people, said Levy, adding that it was orchestrated by the Social Development Commission (SDC) in collaboration with the citizens' association.

The Gleaner received information that threats had resulted in the event being postponed, but officials affiliated with the planning denied hearing any such reports.

"Based on discussion with the necessary partners, we have decided to postpone for now," an SDC representative said.

Late Wednesday, members of the SDC and representatives from the police were locked in a meeting regarding the issue. An employee at the SDC said the meeting was to, among other things, determine a new date for the fair.

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