CHASE the Best Kept Secret in Jamaica- Aggrey Irons


For a company barely over a year old that has disbursed more than $225.4 million up to January of this year for projects ranging from basic school improvement to assisting the Jamaica AIDS Support organization, the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund is the best kept secret in Jamaica, Dr. Aggrey Irons, Chairman of the CHASE Health Committee has said.
According to him, the country needs to become more aware of the good causes facilitated by the Fund. Dr. Irons made these remarks at a recent press briefing at the Terra Nova Hotel to highlight the Fund’s involvement in three health projects valuing approximately $24 million.
“We make no excuse that the CHASE Fund evolves from revenues from gaming so that, when people are ‘stepping up in life’, they are not only trying to gamble and win, they are making a significant contribution simultaneously to their own welfare,” he pointed out.
Prior to the establishment of CHASE in November 2002, funds from the various lottery companies went to different areas such as ministries and organizations. At that time, the funds were more or less splintered and not consolidated or administered from a central point.
“CHASE was set up to deal with that issue and to put it into its right perspective. The rationalization of the Fund hinges on the assumption of greater efficiencies from a centralized administration,” explained Billy Heaven, Chief Executive Officer of CHASE, who was also at the press briefing.
Based on the mandate of CHASE, funds are made available to the five sectors – culture, health, arts, sports and early childhood education. A breakdown of the allotment to each sector sees sports development receiving 40 per cent of all the funds, followed by early childhood education, which receives 25 per cent, health with 20 per cent, and the area of culture and arts, the remaining 15 per cent. Apart from highlighting the Fund’s involvement in the purchase of a haematology coulter counter machine for the laboratory at the Bustamante Hospital for Children; a C-arm Fluoroscope for the National Chest Hospital and the establishment of a ‘Drop in Centre’ at the Bellevue Hospital for homeless persons, Dr. Irons outlined a research programme currently being funded by CHASE. The research programme, he said crossed the education and health sectors, where Dr. Julie Meeks-Gardener of the Tropical Metabolic Research Institute at the University of the West Indies and her team, were exploring the roots of violence in the society and the effect on children, utilizing pilot schools in West St. Andrew and West Kingston in the process.
“We have gotten to the half way point in this piece of research and in fact, we are doing some intervention. This includes the holding of seminars with teachers and parents as a way to improve the level of parenting and, also to improve the level of nutrition,” Dr. Irons noted.
“There is a link between nutrition particularly having to do with fat-soluble vitamins.and the whole business of aggression especially in our young male children. We need to know that the problem of the link between violence and male children and violence and hunger in our inner city communities is being looked at very carefully,” Dr. Irons added.
Up to March of this year the CHASE Fund has received a total of $744 million from the mandatory contributions made by lottery licence holders, namely the Jamaica Lottery Company and Supreme Ventures.

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