JIS News

KINGSTON — The Culture, Health, Arts, Sport and Education (CHASE) Fund has donated over $200 million to the development of the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), Mona, over the past eight years.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the CHASE Fund, W. Billy Heaven, says that to date the agency has provided some $113 million for the upgrading of facilities and provision of well-needed equipment at the UWI, Mona, and $90 million towards the development of the UHWI.

"Which means that both institutions, combined, have received 15 per cent of our total spent in the health sector to date, thereby making it the single largest contribution to any institution or organisation in Jamaica," Mr. Heaven states. To date, CHASE has spent $1.4 billion in the health sector.

Mr. Heaven notes that since the inception of the Fund, in 2003, it has been involved in a number of major projects at both institutions. Among the projects it has contributed to over the years are the upgrading of the Department of Microbiology, establishment of the Virology Laboratory at the UWI and providing funding for Laparoscopic surgery equipment. He said that the fund has also contributed to the renovation and equipping of the Cytogenetic Lab in the Department of the Pathology, which will be officially opened this week.

The UWI was also the recipient of a C-Arm Radiology machine, equipment for the Neonatology Department, as well as the construction of a Special Needs Centre, the Triage Unit, the Intermediate Intensive Care Unit on Ward eight and the Information Booth at the UHWI.  

"Importantly though, and which is very dear to me, is our contribution to research and development and training centrally through TMRI (Tropical Medicine Research Institute)," he says. The research projects include Cardiovascular Risk, Aggressiveness in Children, Traffic Stress, Prostate Cancer, and Early Childhood Stunting.   

Mr. Heaven says the Fund's contribution to the development and improvement of services at both the UWI and the UHWI is a testament to its commitment to the provision of high quality health care to Jamaicans.

"We are aware that there is much more to be done, but I can say with confidence that we are up to the task, as long as the programmes are aligned to national objectives, have a long term developmental impact and create opportunities and initiatives that are responsive to community and national health needs," he states.

The Fund's most recent investment at the UHWI, the Chase Carnegie Skills Laboratory, which was officially opened on Thursday (July 21), was constructed and equipped at a cost of $35 million, with CHASE providing $25 million.

The facility will assist medical students and residents in acquiring skills, through the use of patient models, surgical simulators, cadavers, and anaesthetised, small animal models in a modern state-of-the-art setting. The lab will also enable distance teaching and video conferencing.

"I always experience a feeling of fulfillment and a sense of pride and joy, when our investment addresses a critical need like this one," says Mr. Heaven. He also expressed the hope that the lab will enhance teaching and learning processes at the institution.

"I hope it also helps to provide the level of sophisticated skills required in modern medicine, as well as provide better opportunities for learning those skills, so that we can deliver the desired and necessary health care to the nation through prevention, diagnosis and treatment," he adds.

Chairman of the Health Committee, CHASE Fund, Dr. Aggrey Irons, says the agency is all about investing in the future of Jamaica and its citizens. He notes that CHASE has not only donated to the development of the Lab and other projects at the UWI and UHWI, but has also invested in the maintenance and repair of these facilities.

"It is CHASE's policy that, whenever we invest in whatever we invest in, that we also automatically invest in maintenance. We have never invested in a piece of machinery, without insisting that a maintenance contract goes along with it," he says.                                                        

The CHASE Fund has been operating since January 2003. It was established by the Government to facilitate timely and strategic distribution of its take from the gaming industry.

The finances under the Fund are allocated in the following proportions: sports development, 40 per cent; early childhood education, 25 per cent; health, 20 per cent; arts and culture, 15 per cent.

By Athaliah Reynolds, JIS Reporter