Getting Jamaica higher on the vaccination chartMonday, October 18, 2021
WE are tired of those who have been trying to score political points on the back of a pandemic which has killed our beloved citizens, routed our economy, and damaged the progress of our children. We want to see our leaders going out into their constituencies, with or without their political opponents, and helping to get their consituents vaccinated.
It is hard to believe that we have 63 Members of Parliament and over 220 parish councillors, yet we are only about 15 per cent vaccinated. Our political parties should be applying the same rules of canvas as in their election bible to getting their constituents vaccinated. They should be organising transportation for the disabled to take them to vaccination centres as they have done on many a election days — lifting feeble folks and putting them in cars headed to polling stations.
We want our leaders to use their precious energy to set up face-to-face meetings with those resistant religious leaders, walking them through the science and reminding them that they all had to be vaccinated to be registered at primary school.
These leaders who we have elected to protect us should be furnishing pastors with information so they can tell their parishioners that they should get vaccinated because their loving God inspired scientists to save their lives. They should also remind the congregation that their family members in the health-care system are weary and some of them are burnt out. Every single Saturday or Sunday service should end with a call to action to get vaccinated. If the right slides or videos are needed to aid in disseminating accurate information, the efficient Jamaica Information Service (JIS) could assist in producing these.
We congratulate those church leaders who have stood up and promoted the vaccine and hope more will join this life-saving crusade. We are grateful to Rev Peter Garth, head of the Jamaica Council of Churches; Anglican Archbishop Howard Gregory; and Roman Catholic Archbishop Kenneth Richards for their repeated support of the Government's vaccination programme.
Entertainment journalist Anthony Miller highlighted one aspect of the vaccinaion conundrum on ER when he asked vlogger turned singer Bella if she had received the COVID-19 vaccine. “Not yet”, said the well-educated college graduate, admitting that she plans to because she needs the vaccine to tour. “So you are doing it for the money,” Miller noted. The vaccine situation seems to be complicated for our entertainers who have many anti-vax fans. We understand that some are keeping their vaccination secret for fear of losing support.
How have we descended from the regular routine of vaccinating our children to this anti-vax gibberish is a judgement on leaders worldwide who have fomented this ignorance, all in the name of maintaining power. Therefore, we in Jamaica should still be grateful that our political leaders have not been in denial about the dangers of COVID-19 and have supported the protocols. Let us follow through and get Jamaica to a higher place on the vaccination chart.
$3 billion to keep us honest
The $124 million that was allegedly paid over to the Joint Committee for Tertiary Education (JCTE) by the Ministry of Education has angered taxpayers, but we were even more angry after we heard an interview with Jeanette Calder, executive director of the Jamaica Accountability Meter Portal (JAMP) on Television Jamaica ( TVJ) last Friday.
Calder described the considerable amount of funding received by the Auditor General's Department, the Integrity Commission, and the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), noting that, annually, the Auditor General's Department receives $934 million in funding, $938 million goes to the Integrity Commission, and $1.2 billion goes to MOCA.
“We have to get value for money,” she insisted, “and if, with that amount of spend and experts that we are not able to determine when a crime has been committed and a breach, and when someone has to be held accountable and we can't get value out of that $3 billion, then we have a much bigger problem, and I put it to you that it can be done. It is a matter of will.”
She called for deeper investigations to identify “every public official that was a part of the transfer of these funds [to JCTE]”.
Calder noted, “The Minister of Education has done her job in asking the Auditor General to do their job. Those 155 Jamaicans who work there have done their jobs. Now, as the auditor general has said, her colleagues, the other state watchdog entities — the Integrity Commission and MOCA — have to pick up the baton where she has left off.”
She explained, “We have administrative sanctions that we can take without a court. As to whether or not these public officials have simply broken the rules, broken the policies, broken the protocols of Government – dismiss them, sanction them in whatever means that's available in the legislation and in the policy. We can do that now and we can wait until courts tell us whether or not people go to jail or are fined or determined innocent later. We don't have to wait one or two years for results of those investigations to act today.”
Little Phylisa Prussia was found
Prayers of thanksgiving have been going up with the news that nine-year-old Phylicia Prussia was found alive. Nine-year-old Phylisa lives with her parents in the Bottom Yard district in Bath, St Thomas, and went missing last Thursday evening.
The police disclosed that the person of interest in the case is a man already before the courts on charges of rape and possession of an illegal firearm. We urge the minister of national security to procure electronic bracelets for such people — an honour system does not work with the dishonourable.
The citizens of St Thomas came out in their hundreds to assist Phylisa's parents Latoya Dyer and Korian Prussia in the search for their little girl. We are breathing a collective sigh of relief and send best wishes for her speedy recovery from this traumatic experience.
Jamaica Joy in Honduras
Reggae Boyz Coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore got his five points when our Team Jamaica conquered Honduras last Wednesday in the World Cup qualifiers. Those of us who felt the joy of those World Cup goals scored for Jamaica by Tappa could not believe the brickbats that were being thrown at this steady, humble gentleman. We wish the Reggae Boyz continued success and thank Tappa for his persistence.
National Honours to fine Jamaicans
Heartiest congratulations to the outstanding Jamaicans who will today be conferred with national honours by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen in a virtual ceremony. Permit me to applaud my favourite athlete Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce on whom the Order of Distinction, Commander class (CD) is to be conferred.
Congratulations also to friends and colleagues upon whom the CD will be conferred — Carmen Tipling, Ambassador Sandra Grant Griffiths, Elon Beckford, Warren McDonald, and Senator Delroy Williams.
Colleagues and friends who are to be conferred with the Order of Distinction, Officer class (OD) are Nicola Madden, Camille Needham, Dr Elizabeth Ward, Winsome Wilkins, Cleve “Stitchie” Laing, and Michael London. This is, indeed, a proud moment for you all.
Take courage on this National Heroes' Day dear readers – Jamaica will overcome.