Indian High Commission’s Ocho Rios health camp draws hundreds
Residents of St Ann turned out in their numbers at the Ocho Rios Primary School on Sunday to take advantage of a free health camp hosted by the Indian High Commission, assisted by the Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC).
Indian doctors in the Ocho Rios region volunteered their service for the worthy cause, with adults and children all benefiting from the event which was supported by free pharmaceuticals from local companies,.
The camp, which started at 10 a.m. had served well over 200 persons by noon, with another four hours to go at the time.
Volunteer doctors, assisted by efficient medical staff, ensured the process went smoothly. Pharmacists from the Great House Pharmacy in Ocho Rios and the Brown’s Town Pharmacy joined the list of volunteers, dispensing medication as necessary. Persons received treatment for various complaints, including asthma and diabetes.
Trisena Alridge of Ocho Rios took both her children to the camp for all three to get checked. She later expressed her appreciation.
“I got a text from the teacher at Ocho Rios Primary that they’re having a [health] camp today, so I came with my two sons to get a check-up as well, just to make sure that everything is okay,” she told The Gleaner.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity because now my sons are able to do the dental, which you know is very expensive. They get the chance to do a free dental [check-up] which is very good, so yes, I’m grateful for it,” she added.
Indian High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Masakui Rungsung, was on hand to see the operations and noted that the Ocho Rios health fair was one of several that the high commission has staged in recent times.
He said it all started in 2021, when the high commission had to abort celebrations for India’s National Day on January 31 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said they began to seek innovative ways to mark the occasion when the idea of the health camp came about.
“So on January 30, 2021, we held 30 medical camps on the same day, simultaneously in eight parishes across Jamaica. From then on, we have not looked back because this is sustainable, because volunteer doctors from the Indian community and pharmaceutical companies have come forward, and they’re happy to contribute on a month-to-month basis,” Rungsung said. The Ocho Rios camp was the 23rd such event in the last 20 months.
He said he was particularly pleased that they were able to assist persons who do not have ready access to medical facilities, especially schoolchildren. For them, he would be happy to continue this service, he emphasised.
Rungsung hailed the principal of the Ocho Rios Primary School for allowing the use of the premises, and the doctors, pharmaceutical companies and all stakeholders who volunteered for the cause.
“Without them this would not have happened; it’s a joint effort, a collaboration which is benefiting all of us,” he pointed out.
Member of Parliament for North East St Ann Marsha Smith commended those responsible for the health fair, saying there was no better way to observe October 2 as International Day of Non-Violence than to work in community spirit, as the health fair necessitated.
“So, I applaud the Indian HC for coordinating and working with the doctors, the pharmaceuticals, the local stakeholders in spreading community spirit in the provision of free health services today,” Smith said.
She noted the involvement of the Jamaica Council of Churches in the event, commenting that it was important for the Church to care about the “spirit man” as well as the “physical man.”
Baptist Minister Stephen Henry, the religious site facilitator for St Ann, St Mary and Portland and JCC representative, said the church group is working with Global Fund, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and the National Family Planning Board on a programme to get information out about proper healthcare, and to focus on stigma and discrimination that affect the HIV and AIDS community.
He hailed the Indian High Commission for responding positively to their request to partner with them to stage the event.
Custos of St Ann Norma Walters also praised the spirit of volunteerism that enabled the staging of the health fair.
“We’re delighted that the Indian community, through His Excellency Mr Rungsung, is here with us today to give leadership. Our citizens are indeed very, very grateful for this, and it’s a fine example of how we work together going forward,” Walters said.