Pan Caribbean Sugar’s men receive free health services
Approximately 150 male workers employed to the Pan Caribbean Sugar Factory in Frome, Westmoreland, received free prostate examinations, as well as access to other social services at a health fair that also marked Caribbean Wellness Day on Tuesday.
Marjorie Sharpe, health promotion and education officer at the Westmoreland Health Department, told The Gleaner that the men were provided with a suite of services by a range of health professionals including doctors, public health nurses, mental health officers, nutritionists and dental surgeons.
The aim was to help in reducing and reversing the deadly impact of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Jamaica.
“We are championing the cause. We (have) taken all the different areas of health discipline on the ground so that we can manage these NCDs,” Sharpe said, noting that this year’s initiative was the second of its kind, following up on the first held in November of 2019.
“In 2019, just before COVID-19 we had a smaller event right here, and when we saw how all the men poured out of the factory, it was overwhelming, so we planned to come back, but COVID-19 came shortly after.”
Ahmed Williams, safety officer at Pan Caribbean Sugar, said the initiative was critical to promoting an appreciation for good health among the workers.
“We realise that the health of our workers is very important at Pan Caribbean because we notice that some workers don’t even live to see retirement age, so we think that the health fair is absolutely important,” Williams said.
He said he was encouraged by the response from the workers.
“We are happy to see the services that the workers are picking up because, for example, the digital examination of the prostate, I thought more or less they would be scared, but they are braving up and realising the health benefits of being examined,” Williams noted.
“It is nothing to be fearful of, (it is) true that we might have a homophobic kind of concept with regards to the digital examination (of the prostate), but it’s for your benefit and it wasn’t uncomfortable. The medical people were very professional. They made you feel at ease and comfortable. It was done in a nice way,” Williams told The Gleaner after completing his own prostate examination.
Denham Ranken, a tractor operator with 44 years of service at the sugar factory, was pleased with the services he was able to access.
Gary Saddler, a truck driver, lauded the Westmoreland Health Department and Pan Caribbean Sugar, saying, “It is important because not everybody has the money to do certain things. It is here for free and I have a bad tooth and it’s free to pull it so I’m here to do that,” Saddler said, adding that he would also be (having) his blood pressure and blood sugar levels checked to take advantage of the free medical services.
Sharpe said the offerings had been expanded from the last event to ensure that more people were accommodated with other services relevant to their needs.
“We invited some other social entities like the Rural Agriculture Development Agency (RADA), Community Workers of Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union, Restorative Justice, and National Council of Drug Abuse because you know that the working class needs these services also,” she said.