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Health sector out west got diaspora attention

Published:Friday | June 26, 2015 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater

While concerns were raised in many quarters about the effectiveness of the recent Sixth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, which was held in western Jamaica, the public health services in the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) can boast of getting some benefits.

Topping the list of beneficiaries is the Catherine Hall Health Centre, which was given a facelift courtesy of the Jamaica Diaspora Canada Foundation.

In addition, the Canada-based group, which was led by Dr Sylvanus Thompson, director of Health and Environment Foundation Canada, presented the centre with two desktop computers, a laptop and printer.

While Thompson and his team were making their presence felt at Catherine Hall, a team of doctors and other medical staff from the diaspora in the United States and local health personnel, were busily conducting a free clinic at Flanker Health Centre, where more than 50 residents, mostly adults, were treated.

Among the range of treatment provided to the Flanker residents were blood-pressure and blood-sugar checks.

Those who required more substantial medical attention were seen by Dr Robert Clarke and Dr Rudolph Woolis, of the US Diaspora delegation.

Sponsored by Victoria Mutual

The facelift to Catherine Hall Health Centre was carried out by a team of volunteers from the diaspora in Canada with sponsorship from Victoria Mutual.

Their effort, which entailed painting the buildings and landscaping the grounds, was supported by health centre staff and a number of retired public health inspectors.

Among the persons who came along to support the effort were officials from the All American Institute of Medical Sciences; and Dr Sheila Campbell Forrester, a former regional director of the WRHA and former chief medical officer in the Ministry of Health.

Both service projects were visited by regional director Dr Ken-Garfield Douglas; minister of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Arnaldo Brown, and executive director of the Jamaica Diaspora Institute, Professor Neville Ying.

Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor, the commanding officer for the St James Police Division, visited the Flanker Health Centre to support the project.

He used the opportunity to speak with the volunteers, as well as residents who gathered around to watch the proceedings.

The neighbouring parish of Hanover also got some attention from the diaspora representative on health-related issues. The Jamaica Diaspora Health Sector conducted a workshop and seminar in Lucea and a personal staff development seminar at the Social Development Commission's office, also in Lucea.