AS THE Sandals Foundation moves into its fourth year, it has reaffirmed its commitment to health care with a US$50,000 donation to the Caribbean-SickKids Paediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders project.
Additionally, Adam Stewart, president of the Sandals Foundation, was named ambassador of the project along with Paul Lee-Chin, financial advisor with Manulife Securities in Canada and son of noted philanthropist Michael Lee-Chin.
This new outreach initiative, which falls under the Global Child Health Programme, was launched in Toronto, Canada, on February 14. It aims to improve diagnoses and outcomes for children affected by paediatric cancers and serious blood disorders in the Caribbean.
The project will help build health-care capacity in six Caribbean countries by training health professionals, providing consultation and diagnostic expertise, and developing and expanding access to treatment and supportive care. The goal is to expand access to world-leading medical professionals, allowing children to get the best care possible in their own countries.
In charting the way forward for the project, participants and organisers recently convened at the Sandals Grande Riviera in Ocho Rios.
"I'm very excited to be a part of this project, because it will help provide more effective treatment for kids with cancer in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean," said Dr Michelle Reece-Mills, who is now Jamaica's only trained physician specialising in children's cancer and blood disorders.
"For Jamaica's population, we need at least six or seven paediatric oncologists. I'm starting to see more interest in paediatric oncology from our residents, and we hope to have more doctors involved in this project."
Reece-Mills was trained at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), a teaching and research hospital associated with the University of Toronto, and continues to work with SickKids in learning how to treat paediatric cancers.
SickKids is committed to raising CA$8 million over the next five years in support of the project, which is being introduced in Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, The Bahamas and Jamaica.