Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says the Ministry is currently fine-tuning a gift policy, which will assist in streamlining and standardising donations in the health field.
In his message, read by Jamaica's Honorary Consul to Atlanta, Vin Martin, at the Atlanta-Montego Bay Sister Cities Foundation annual fund-raising banquet, held at the Marriott Hotel in Atlanta on September 22, the Health Minister noted that the country's new health policy would assist groups, such as the Sister Cities, in maximising the effectiveness of its efforts for Jamaica’s overall benefit.
Dr. Ferguson said over the years, the outreach and health missions, sponsored by the Atlanta-Montego Bay Sister Cities Foundation, have touched more than 45,000 lives in St. James.
"Last year alone you made monetary and in-kind contributions worth some US$$175,000, as well as delivered health care to residents of Montego Bay and its surrounding communities. This is a genuine expression of patriotic devotion and an expression of love for Jamaica," the Minister said.
Dr. Ferguson explained that there are new and emerging opportunities for Health Tourism, which is an attractive area in which the Sister Cities could participate. "Health Tourism is essentially the practice of travelling to a tourist destination with the main purpose of receiving health care. Your group could partner with the Government in such an area, through Public-Private partnership, which is another area of focus for the current administration," he added.
The Minister listed some of the factors which have made Jamaica a good prospect for Health Tourism, such as the global competitiveness of the country's health service, the quality and sustainability of Jamaica’s health service system, the committed political will, as well as Jamaica's much lower cost per capita for health care, which is estimated at 10 to 20 times less than the cost in the United States, Canada and Europe.
In his message, Jamaica's Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Stephen Vasciannie, said the Atlanta-Montego Bay Sister Cities Committee has remained steadfast in its pledge to the mutual development of the interests of Montego Bay and Atlanta. He pointed out that this year’s health mission to Montego Bay will coincide with the 40th anniversary of the cities’ twinning, and 20 years of a renewed, reinvigorated partnership.
The Ambassador commended members of the group for their remarkable expression of love for Jamaica and thanked them for pledging their continued support to Montego Bay. "The assistance given to Montego Bay in the area of health is a tremendous lift for our nation's health sector, for which we are truly grateful," the Ambassador said.
Among those honoured at Saturday night's gala for 20 years of service were: Former Chairman of the Atlanta-Montego Bay Sister Cities Montego Bay chapter, Metty Scarlett-Jones, Norma Taylor, Ray Harvey and Pauline Erskine. Chairman of the Atlanta-Montego Bay Sister Cities Committee, Vin Martin, and his wife Hazel Martin, were also honoured.