SPANISH TOWN, St Catherine:
Food For The Poor (FFP) Jamaica handed over well-needed health-care supplies to the Ministry of Health at a special presentation ceremony at the Ellerslie Pen, Spanish Town, office of the charity on Tuesday. On hand to receive the donations was Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson.
The gifts included 200 wheelchairs, 40 hospital beds, four operating theatre lights, and two stretchers. FFP also provided 51 sofas for use in the reception areas, grief counselling facilities, and consultation units at hospitals. The lounge area for medical personnel at hospitals will also benefit from the sofas.
Addressing the handover ceremony, Jacqueline Johnson, executive director of FFP Jamaica, stated that the donation was another signal of the charity's commitment to assist the ministry, whose mandate is to ensure the provision of top-quality health services and to promote healthy lifestyles and environmental practices. "We know it will be a significant boost to the resources in hospitals across the island," said Johnson. "These items, donated through the goodwill of many altruistic supporters of Food For The Poor, will assist the Ministry of Health, its regional health authorities, and related organisations as you work to deliver quality health care islandwide."
Johnson pointed out that since its inception in 1983, FFP had been enhancing public health and improving patient care, especially to the poor. She reported that during 2012, FFP distributed health-care supplies valued at J$3.1 billion to health centres and hospitals, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), infirmaries, and schools. "This is an increase from J$2.9 billion in 2011," stated Johnson. Items distributed included pharmaceuticals - chronic disease medicines, antibiotics, pain medicines; health-care equipment - hospital beds, ventilators, dental chairs, wheelchairs, and suction machines; and medical supplies - gloves, masks, gowns, syringes, cotton, and gauze.
At its annual health fair in March of last year, FFP provided 2,000 individuals with various medical services, including dental and medical examinations.
Expressing appreciation for the donation, Ferguson commended FFP and cited the charity as one of the ministry's long-standing partners in health care. He said the FFP contribution of health-care items was an example of what it meant to "continue the fine tradition of partnership and cooperation in the provision of health services to the people of Jamaica".
The health minister continued: "This donation exemplifies the true spirit of philanthropy and a sincere commitment to work in tandem with the Government to help develop the country. It also signifies recognition that putting the nation's interests at heart is not a job for the Government alone. I hope that other organisations will use this as an inspiration to get involved and follow suit."
Underscoring the need to build strong partnerships in addressing the urgent issues facing Jamaica, Ferguson challenged every organisation to "adopt a particular area" in which it can make significant headway in improving the lives of needy Jamaicans.
He says the FFP donation comes at a time when the Government has been working towards improving the health-care system by providing additional equipment and supplies to these facilities. The Equipment Performance Task Force, which was established by Ferguson in January last year, was charged with the development of a framework for the optimal use of medical equipment and to help standardise equipment for use in the health sector. The health minister reported that the first set of recommendations for standardisation of equipment supported the ministry's application to the National Contracts Commission (NCC).
"The NCC has given its approval for X-ray units, patient monitors, and autoclaves. We are pleased with that achievement and look forward to other similar approvals as it relates to standards for other equipment used in our facilities," remarked the health minister.
Among persons participating in today's handover ceremony were Hurley Taylor, consultant/adviser to the minister of health; Ambassador Marjorie Taylor of the health ministry; Jennifer Tomlinson, director of finance, FFP; Deacon Ron Burgess, senior director, recipient services, FFP; and Susan Moore, director of recipient services, FFP.
CAPTION: Dr Fenton Ferguson, health minister, happily tries out one of 200 wheelchairs donated to hospitals islandwide by Food For The Poor (FFP). He is cheered on by (from right) Jacqueline Johnson, executive director, Food For The Poor Jamaica; Hurley Taylor, consultant/adviser to the minister of health; and Deacon Ron Burgess, senior director, FFP. They were participating in a special handover ceremony at the Spanish Town office of the charity on Tuesday, February 12. - Contributed