Hundreds of citizens from Madras and adjoining communities in northeastern St. Ann are now proud beneficiaries of a new health centre. The centre was established by the Harris Family Vision Foundation, at a cost of approximately $1.5 million.
Dr. the Hon. Fenton Ferguson, officially opened the Madras Health Centre on August 17 during a ceremony at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in St. Ann. The centre will facilitate regular and more convenient health checks for citizens as well as make available opportunities for public education on healthy living.
The Harris Family Vision Foundation has been working to have the health facility fully furnished and equipped so that residents can start benefitting soon.
Dr. Ferguson commended founding members of the Foundation, 17 year old Nekhidia Harris and 14 year old Kimberly Harris, for their bold effort and sacrifices, in making the facility a reality for the community.
"I am very pleased for the sacrifices that the (Harris) family and the Foundation is making for all of you citizens in Madras and I thank you on behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica. The Prime Minister, Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, who should have been here, has asked me to bring her kind regards to the family… We are deeply indebted to this family and the Foundation for partnering with government,” Dr. Ferguson said.
"I want to say to you all as members of this community, please continue to build on what you have received. It is important, because if you fail to build on what you have received, then what you’d be asking of the Harris Family Vision Foundation is to come back year after year to Madras alone… and that would be selfish,” the Minister of Health noted.
He announced that the government was about to pursue a public/private partnership arrangement of which the framework policy document was being formulated by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ).
The Minister also explained that primary health care was a priority within his Ministry and special focus was being placed on development of health centres. He reported that under the Ministry's three year programme 54 health centres have already been refurbished.
"There are also about eight health centres that we are refurbishing or doing some other kinds of work on,” Dr. Ferguson said.
He acknowledged the contributions of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund and CHASE Fund towards the construction and refurbishing of these centres.
"Primary Health Care is not only about giving care, it is also about prevention... and we are going to build and bring back a first class primary health care system, because in the 1970's Jamaica was among the leading countries in the world with this level of health care,” Dr. Ferguson said.
The Harris Family Vision Foundation which was founded by two girls at ages 11 and 9 years old, has been serving in Caribbean countries including Jamaica. It has hosted annual back-to-school treats, donated scholarships and funded the upgrading of educational facilities across the region.