Jamaica has lost a great son in Professor Winston Davidson
JAMAICA has been blessed with men and women who, by their commitment to the country’s development, willingness to serve, and passion to help their fellow human beings, have distinguished themselves as truly great citizens.
Professor Dr Winston “Winty” Davidson was one such Jamaican who, undoubtedly, added to the strength of our nation.
News that Dr Davidson passed on Sunday after a short illness shocked the country and plunged us into deep mourning because we have lost a wonderful human being with a brilliant mind who, many years ago, shared with us his desire to have telemedicine practised in Jamaica. Today, on the foundation of that vision, the service — which actually started out slowly — is widespread here and has grown even more due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He played a pivotal role in the development of the National Telemedicine Research Project into which he poured a lot of his personal funds to supplement the government grant and loan it received. In fact, at the time of his passing he headed that project and was executive chairman of Tele-Medicine Limited, chairman of Health for All Jamaica Limited, and president and CEO of Telemedicine Diagnostic and Treatment Centre.
Dr Davidson was also known for his unwavering support for universal health coverage therefore, it was no surprise when he conceptualised Doctors on Call — an affordable telemedicine platform for the benefit of patients, developed from years of research by his company Tele-Medicine Limited.
The project, which has been adopted by Jamaica National, delivers a range of health services. And we are told that doctors from the Association of General Practitioners of Jamaica and the Caribbean College of Family Physicians, who contributed to evaluation and user acceptance tests over the past 20 years, have committed to charging half the normal cost of an office visit to see patients on the platform.
Professor Davidson also had a long history of service to Jamaica in the area of public health, spanning from the late 1970s when he served as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Health through to 1998 when he joined colleagues in founding the Jamaica Public Health Doctors Association and became president of the Medical Association of Jamaica.
It was fitting, therefore, that in 2003 the Government invested him with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander for services to medicine.
Had he stuck with representational politics Professor Davidson would likely have been recognised for service in that field because he was a man who was committed to the ideal of Jamaicans, regardless of their station, benefiting from equity in all spheres of life.
Still yet, after an unsuccessful run for the St Andrew West Rural constituency in the 1980 General Election, which the People’s National Party (PNP) lost by a landslide, Professor Davidson continued to serve the party and became a close advisor to Mrs Portia Simpson Miller when she was elected president of the PNP and succeeded Mr PJ Patterson as prime minister of Jamaica.
Our country has lost another of its great sons. We extend our condolence to his family and friends. We will miss him terribly, but we thank God for his life and pray that the Almighty will grant him peaceful rest.