Chang: Government committed to uplifting volatile communities
From left, Aniceto Rodriguez Ruiz, Head of Cooperation, European Union; Omar Sweeney, managing director of JSIF, Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang; Minister of Health, Christopher Tufton; Wayne Henry, chairman of JSIF, and Lennox Wallace participate in the ribbon-cutting at the official handing over ceremony of the Flanker Health Centre in St James last week. (Photo: Philp Lemonte)

FLANKER, St James — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang says the $43.7-million project to rehabilitate the Flanker Health Centre is an example of Government's collaborative and coordinated approach to drive transformation in volatile communities.

Last Wednesday, Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) officially handed over the newly rehabiliated Flanker Health Centre, a project it undertook with finances from the European Union (EU) under the Poverty Reduction Programme (PRP).

Arguing that “social investment must be closely intertwined with the physical infrastructure”, Dr Chang, who is also Member of Parliament for St James North Western, the constituency in which Flanker falls, emphasised that the health service has a role to play in the transformation of communities.

“Government's intent is to ensure that the investment we make with JSIF is coordinated with the services that will bring about the transformative change in our community, and that's why we speak to both — and having [Minister of Health] Dr [Christopher] Tufton here, signals that. Public health has to play a critical role in transforming our communities,” expressed Dr Chang.

“Projects operating in silos don't give you the results you want. Ministries operating in silos don't.”

For his part Dr Tufton, who, like his Cabinet colleague, lauded the EU for its support of public health, argued that hypothetically, public health does not only provide clinical services.

“In a sense, we don't just deliver clinical services; we are socio-economic. And in a sense that primary health care nurse you interact with on a regular basis, if you really think about it, she is at a vantage point to observe every single thing that takes place in the community — and that's a responsibility that she bears every single day whe she comes to work. She sees the social interaction, she sees the wholesomeness of families that interact with the community, she sees the dysfunctional behaviour — and she sees it from a vantage point where she sees the warning signs as well as she sees the manifestations of it, whether it is through trauma or is it through celebrations,” Dr Tufton said.

Dr Chang suggested that “part of that problem was that JSIF's work was being done and the other agencies work around them”.

“They [JSIF] would fix a school but nothing was done to improve the attendance or adopt the curriculum, the needs of the community; and, therefore, after a while the school begins to deteriorate again. The health centres would be occupied but, again, not much was done to look at how the health centre now is a better centre being attended to provide a basis for improvement to the community,” Dr Chang contended.

In fact, Chang underscored the need to have a holistic programme that involves public health, education, and other things.

“We now need to ensure that we can provide high-quality education from infancy through. We need to ensure that the poverty relief, the single mother who has a challenge, is identified from this clinic and is supported by other programmes. If they need to be on PATH they should be on, if they need psychosocial counselling, it need to be there,” the security minister contended.

The scope of work carried out at Flanker Health Centre included the demolition of the old structure and rebuilding of a new, expanded facility which, among other things, includes two new consultation rooms, two treatment rooms, a health inspector's office, an administrative office, new roofing and perimeter fencing.

The health centre, which will also serve as a vaccination centre, serves more than 3,000 residents in Flanker and neighbouring communities.

Aniceto Rodriquez Ruiz, head of corporation, European Union Delegation to Jamaica, expressed that the EU, through the Poverty Reduction Programme, has been able to support Government's effort to strengthen Jamaica's health infrastructure in four of the most needy communities in St James — Adelphi, Granville, Barrett Town and Flanker.

“It is, therefore, a delight for me to join you for the handing over ceremony for the Fkanker Health Centre,” Ruiz commented.

Omar Sweeney, managing director of JSIF,also expressed his delight.

“It is a pleasure to host you today for the handing over ceremony of the Flanker Health Centre, which comes at an opportune time when the world is preparing to tackle another variant which is looming in other jurisdictions,” Sweeney said.

CHANG... public health has to play a critical role in transforming our communities
BY HORACE HINES Staff reporter editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

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