Only days after the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) released the details of the Population and Housing Census 2011, showing that the population grew only marginally over a 10-year period, the plight of an elderly man, with prosthetic legs, highlighted the parlous state of a severely handicapped welfare system in Jamaica.
Obviously ailing, the man was hobbling - if one can call it that - to the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) when he just could go no more, in an emerging environment that STATIN calls an "ageing population".
The crippled man had reached about 100 metres from the North Street entrance to the facility, commonly, if ironically, described as the largest public-health institution in the English-speaking Caribbean, but that was a mighty far way for a man without legs and the wherewithal to transport him.
A 'Good Samaritan' saw the leg-less man for, obviously in pain, he had removed his legs, and ventured to assist, but unlike the Biblical character, he would not be able to access assistance even from the medical and health personnel.
As in the days of old, other upstanding citizens passed him by. As it were back then, some disregarded the plaintive cry of the old man.
When the Good Samaritan contacted the KPH, he was bluntly told that there were no ambulances available to transport the man a mere hundred metres to access medical care.
When the Good Samaritan requested a wheelchair for the man, he was advised that machines were not allowed so far from the hospital - 100 metres away.
no help from police
Desperate, the Good Samaritan contacted the police, who promised to come by. Three to four hours later, the ailing man was still languishing in pain in close proximity to the KPH. By the way, to my certain knowledge, the police have not yet arrived.
The Good Samaritan was in a predicament. He was no medical expert and was without money. He was not skilled in the ways of handling a feeble figure languishing in the throes of pain and suffering and, furthermore, he knew not how to lift the man.
The Good Samaritan reverted to contacting a range of so-called philanthropic organisations operated by some religious bodies in the private as well as other organisations in the public domain, but goodwill seemed to have gone for a walk and would not return that fateful Saturday night as the crippled man lay on the bare ground in close proximity to the much-vaunted KPH.
All of this took place, only four days after Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance Horace Dalley claimed that the census would guide plans and programmes.
Figures revealed by the census show 28 per cent (751,489) of Jamaica's total population was found to be in the 15-29 age group, while 38 per cent (1,026,053) were identified in the 30-64 age range.
Just eight per cent (217,606) of those identified were found in the 65 and over age range, which is the stage at which most Jamaicans retire from the workforce and become eligible for pension. The remaining 26 per cent (702,835) were identified as those under the age of 15.
The 2012/2013 Estimates of Expenditures show that the South East Regional Health Authority had been allocated $179 million for administrative expenses; the Southern region received $177 million; the Northern region got $141 million and Western, 125.4 million.
What are these people administrating in this massively top-heavy institution, when a poor man is unable to access medical treatment under this so-called no user-fee policy? The regional health authority has failed abysmally and successive administrations refuse to address the situation - just ask any local doctor who is prepared to speak.
Tragically, the ratio of nurses to patients rises to as much as one to 50 patients. This is unacceptable.
Over at the nearby Victoria Jubilee Hospital, expecting mothers are forced to wait to get a bed, elevators continue to malfunction and there is an absence of other important equipment.
STATIN revealed in its census findings that fewer than 500,000 babies were added to the Jamaican population over the past decade, falling from an average of 24.2 per 1,000 between 1991 and 2001 to 17.4 per 1,000 between 2001 and 2011.
If this is the case, where was the planning over the past 10 years, since nothing much has happened by way of increased population?
Gary Spaulding is a senior Gleaner writer. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org