JIS News

Minister of Health, Hon. Horace Dalley has reiterated his call for violence prevention and peace, in light of the rising incidences of violence and crime occurring in sections of the island.
The Minister made the call at the launch of the Peace Month activities, which was held today (February 6) at the offices of the Gleaner Company.Partners in the initiative are the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA), PALS Jamaica and the Healthy Lifestyle Project of the Ministry of Health.
Apart from the negative impact on the social fabric, such as the breakdown or disintegration of families, Minister Dalley also pointed to the high economic cost to the country as a direct result of the many cases of violence.
Citing the number of cases that are dealt with at the country’s health facilities as a result of violence, the Minister said an estimated 32,000 persons visited the country’s hospitals in 2004; 38,000 in 2005 and 28,000 in 2006.
“What they have calculated in the Ministry is that the impact of violence on the health sector was about $700 million (per year) caused by treating trauma.and the category with the most visits was the 15 to 20 age group,” the Minister said.
Within this context, he commended groups, such as the VPA, and urged its volunteers to continue to uphold the cause for peace and violence prevention, especially among young people who were the most vulnerable group.
“I am one who has hope and I have a lot of hope that one day, the message of peace is going to get across,” he said.
Chairman of the VPA, Professor Barry Chevannes also noted that the Alliance, along with its partners, would continue to promote the use of “non-violent means” as an alternative to dealing with individual differences.
“Our activities,” he pointed out, “take place amidst growing concerns about the proliferation of guns in the hands of our youth, who are misguided in the sentiment that a gun makes them invincible and manly”.
Professor Chevannes noted that while a number of activities would be carried out, prior to and on Peace Day, which will be celebrated on March 6, the ICC Cricket World Cup tournament would be used as a platform to promote peace throughout the country.
“This year will be different in one respect. Taking the opportunity of ICC World Cup, we are including a 10/10 cricket competition in the communities.we are trying to get the communities to march in T-shirts printed in the colours of all 16 cricketing countries in the competition,” he highlighted.
He said that three marches would be done in the Corporate Area on Peace Day, all of which would culminate at the peace concert to be held on the Waterfront in Downtown Kingston.
Notwithstanding this, he said that activities would continue throughout the month of March, culminating in Montego Bay at the end of the month.
The theme for Peace Day this year is: ‘No Violence – Jus’ Bat for Peace’.