America a true friend of Jamaica

America a true friend of Jamaica

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Some of the sarcastic responses to the generosity shown by the US Government to Jamaica for this COVID-19 pandemic is driven by ignorance.

That the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been able to allocate $95 million — as the Jamaica Observer reported on Monday — to support emergency response activities is commendable, but not outside the scope of USAID's normal activities.

It seems that many Jamaicans do not know that USAID has been helping this country for more than 50 years. A look at USAID's website will show you that the agency has a proud history of assisting Jamaica in the areas of community safety and security; widening access to quality basic education; increasing resiliency of targeted sectors to global climate change; improving resilience and sustainability of targeted livelihoods and ecosystems; reducing violence in specific communities; and reducing the prevalence of HIV in target populations.

I am therefore not surprised that USAID, in responding to Jamaica's needs in this crucial time, is giving us support in the areas of case management to strengthen clinical care while minimising the risk of onwards transmission to others; infection prevention and control in health care facilities; laboratory strengthening to prepare systems for large-scale testing of COVID-19; communications to help educate people on steps they can take to prevent and respond to the spread of the virus through country-specific media campaigns; and surveillance and rapid response to enhance case-finding and event-based surveillance for COVID-19.

The United States has been a true friend of Jamaica for many years, and the current ambassador, Donald Tapia, has demonstrated, time and time again, that this special relationship between both countries is valued by his Government.

Any Government that has given so much to Jamaica over so many years, as has the United States Government, is worthy of commendation, and people here should not pour scorn on their contribution. In fact, I would be willing to bet that those who are quick to criticise have never lifted a finger to help Jamaica. And if, by some remote chance they did, I am sure that their contribution pales in comparison to that of Ambassador Tapia and his Government.

Finally, I join Ambassador Tapia in commending the Jamaican Government for the fine job it is doing in managing this COVID-19 crisis. The prime minister, the minister of health and wellness, and the health professionals must take great pride in the work they are doing to keep Jamaica safe.

Norman Martin
Kingston 8

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