Fabian Brown (right), CEO of Value Added Services, presents a donation of 5,000 bottles of cancer medication to Dr Arlene Thorbourne, director of pharmacy at the University Hospital of the West Indies. The drugs were donated through a partnership with Value Added Services, Malloy University and PNR Relief International.

MORE than 5,000 bottles of cancer medication have been donated to the University Hospital of the West Indies pharmacy through a partnership involving the Value Added Services (VAS) Foundation, Malloy University in the United States of America and PNR Relief International.

Through that partnership, scores of Jamaicans in Kingston and St Andrew and St Ann have also received free health care.

According to Fabian Brown, chief executive officer of Value Added Services, the donation of medication and the free health care was motivated by the philosophy of giving people a hand up instead of a hand out.

The drugs, which Brown said has good shelf life, were brought into the country by Malloy University and PNR Relief International.

"We donated quite a bit of cancer drugs to support the need across the public sector. It was really a beautiful opportunity for us to be able to support the health sector. Whilst the need for the particular cancer medication was not extensive, it means that we would have been able to fulfil the need that exists through the donations.

"As it relates to these drugs, there is a comprehensive process where we have to submit expiry dates and quantities prior to them arriving in the island and the relevant personnel from the Ministry of Health met with the team at the airport so that customs could do their reference checks and due diligence to ensure there are no drugs coming in that are not approved for Jamaica and no drugs that are expired or near expired," Brown told the Jamaica Observer.

Malloy and PNR Relief International brought in other drugs as well, which they distributed to Government health facilities at recent health fairs.

"Community clinics were able to stock up with what may be considered run of the mill cough and cold medication. When the medical team comes to Jamaica, they come with approved drugs, sufficient to allow them to offer a full service," Brown said.

He noted that the medical teams have been coming to Jamaica for roughly 10 years to offer free health services.

As part of the health mission, the teams conducted screening to identify speech and hearing challenges, with a focus on children.

"We forged a partnership with the Hoolebury Primary School in Scarlet Hall in St Ann and the idea was to reach children especially, even though we catered to adults and the elderly. We sought to identify speech and hearing challenges and made the diagnosis and the necessary recommendations.

"As Jamaicans, often times speech and hearing challenges may exist at a very young age and we may reference them as just being stubborn or hard of hearing. What we are seeking to do is continue to partner with Malloy University to clinically diagnose where they are real issues and see how best we can treat with them."

Brown explained that sustainability has been at the centre of all its outreach programmes and shared that more partnerships with international organisations will be forged to continue impacting the lives of the less fortunate.

"We want to make sure that it is not just about feeling good and handing out some stuff and moving on. The relationship we've had with Malloy University and PRN Relief International was built over many years. There are partnerships with the Holy Cross Secondary School in Canada, what we call the Kingston to Kingston partnership.

"We absolutely will be continuing this partnership. We recognise that the impact we have made is significant but we also recognise that there is more work to be done. We are prepared. In March of next year, PRN and Malloy will be back in Jamaica for diagnosis, primary care and for surgical procedures. The Caribbean Footsteps partnership continues and we are also going to be expected to welcome the team from Canada again next year," added Brown.

BY JASON CROSS Observer staff reporter crossj@jamaicaobserver.com

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