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Minister of Health Hon. Rudyard Spencer, has praised local nurses for the critical role they are playing in fostering the behavioural changes needed to improve the health status of Jamaicans.
Mr. Spencer said this was vital, and in line with the Ministry’s ongoing health promotion and protection drive, aimed at reducing chronic and lifestyle illnesses.
Acting Chief Nursing Officer in the Ministry Dr. Leila McWhinney Dehaney, delivered the message on behalf of the Minister, during a function to launch National Nurses’ Week at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in Kingston Tuesday (May 12).

Chairman for the South Eastern Regional Health Authority Lyttleton Shirley, (left) greets Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Lasco Group of Companies Lascelles Chin (right), as he arrived for the launch of National Nurses’ Week at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel, Kingston, on Tuesday(May 12). At centre is President of the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) Edith Allwood Anderson.

In his message, the Minister said that over 50 per cent of deaths and diseases in Jamaica are attributable to chronic non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cancer and heart disease.
He said that, according to figures from the Ministry’s Epidemiological Research and Data Analysis Unit, heart disease claimed 1,749 lives between 2002 and 2004.
“Figures also show that in 2007 alone, 2,303 persons presented with various types of heart disease in our public hospitals and at the University Hospital of the West Indies,” he informed.

President of the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) Edith Allwood Anderson (right) and Chairman for the South Eastern Regional Health Authority, Lyttleton Shirley, converse during a ceremony to launch National Nurses’ Week at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in Kingston on Tuesday(May 12).

Noting that it costs the country over US$170 million per annum to treat patients with diabetes alone, $600 million to treat mental illnesses and $2 billion to treat trauma injuries at public health facilities in 2006, he said that Jamaicans must seek to reduce the cost of health care delivery through health promotion.
He said that nurses were very important in achieving this goal, and improving the quality of life of the Jamaican people.
“Through your linkages in the communities, you can reach far and wide and spread the word to persons to educate them about taking charge of their lives and their health,” he stated.
The Health Minister also lauded nurses who have been unrelenting in trying to ensure the best quality health care delivery in the island.
“You are the backbone of our health sector, labouring every day to ensure that our people are properly cared for. Even in the face of numerous challenges, you have remained steadfast to your responsibilities,” he said.
“We thank you for dedicating your service to the people of Jamaica. We note the pivotal role you play in bringing health care to our communities across the island, even in the most remote of areas,” he added.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Lasco Group of Companies Lascelles Chin, also joined in praising nurses for “outstanding humanitarian service” to the country, and their commitment to building high professional standards.
“International Nurses’ Day is about acknowledging and celebrating the invaluable legacy and ongoing service of nurses, worldwide. This day is therefore a fitting time for me to applaud the nurses for ongoing dedication to the people of Jamaica and to the nursing profession,” Mr. Chin said.
Tuesday (May 12) was recognised as International Nurses’ Day, under the theme ‘Delivering Quality, Serving Communities: Nurses Leading Care Innovations’.
The Lasco Group of Companies is an annual partner with the Nurses Association (NAJ) in staging International Nurses’ Day and National Nurses’ Week activities.
National Nurses Week will be observed July 19 to 25. The Lasco/NAJ Nurse of the Year awards ceremony will mark the culmination of Nurses Week on July 25.
Other activities include, an ecumenical church service, at the Calvary Baptist Church in Montego Bay on Sunday, July 19; and the Nurses’ Summer School at the Emancipation Park, Kingston, July 21-22.