New hyperbaric chamber to treat diving complications

Observer North & East

Monday, March 18, 2013

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THE capacity of local health officials to treat divers with complications such as decompression illness has received a major boost with the commissioning of a new hyperbaric chamber.

The chamber, which has been installed at the Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory in St Ann, was acquired through the collaborative effort of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and the University of the West Indies (UWI).

The facility was officially commissioned last Wednesday at a ceremony organised by the UWI Centre for Marine Sciences which administers the Marine Laboratory.

Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill said the chamber is a substantial investment in Jamaica's drive towards promoting dive tourism.

The ministry, he said, is delighted to be a partner in this acquisition, through the initiative of the TEF to provide part-funding for the purchase of this essential piece of equipment.

The chamber was made possible through grant funding by TEF to the tune of $100,000 which was extended to the UWI Centre for Marine Sciences to facilitate the design, construction, acquisition and commissioning of the First World-rated hyperbaric treatment facility.

"The chamber is a substantial investment in our drive towards promoting dive tourism, and the TEF will continue to partner in supporting programmes and projects such as this new hyperbaric facility as we look to expand our tourism product offering and diversify our markets," McNeill said.

Executive Director of the TEF Clyde Harrison expressed satisfaction that the TEF has been able to contribute to the installation and commissioning of this well-needed hyperbaric chamber.

"We are confident that this new chamber will make destination Jamaica even more appealing to divers," Harrison said.

In thanking the Ministry of Tourism and the TEF for the contribution, principal of UWI, Mona, Professor Gordon Shirley, explained that after the previous chamber fell into disrepair it became clear that it would have to be replaced speedily as persons frequently turned up with diving complications and needed treatment.

"Hence, UWI is pleased to be associated with the acquisition of this hyperbaric chamber," Shirley said.

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