JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Construction is to begin next month on a resource centre to provide services for Jamaicans, who have been diagnosed with low vision.
  • Low vision is a significant reduction of visual function that is unable to be fully corrected by glasses, contact lenses, medical treatment or surgery.
  • The Government of Japan is providing $11 million in grant assistance towards the project, with the National Health Fund (NHF) contributing $7. 6 million.

Construction is to begin next month on a resource centre to provide services for Jamaicans, who have been diagnosed with low vision.

Low vision is a significant reduction of visual function that is unable to be fully corrected by glasses, contact lenses, medical treatment or surgery. Low vision can result from a variety of diseases and injuries that affect the eye.

The Jamaica Society for the Blind (JSB) is spearing the project, which will involve the erection of a new floor at its premises located at 111 ½ Old Hope Road, St. Andrew.   The project is estimated to cost $23 million and the work will be undertaken over a six-month period.

The Government of Japan is providing $11 million in grant assistance towards the project, with the National Health Fund (NHF) contributing $7. 6 million. The JSB has embarked on a drive to raise the additional $ 5 million needed.

At a signing ceremony for the grant agreement held on Thursday (Feb. 20) at the Lion’s Club Resource Centre in Mona, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, said that the setting up of the facility will enhance services for the visually impaired.

This, he said, is in keeping with the overall objectives of the Government in providing “health care for all”.

“We believe that treatment and prevention services should be available so that persons can be on the road to living a better quality of life,” he stated.

The Health Minister noted that while there are challenges in terms of resources and infrastructure “we are committed to doing everything possible to deliver good eye-care.”

He said that the Government’s partnership in the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Project has yielded significant outcomes especially in facilitating increased cataract surgeries, among other procedures for Jamaicans.

“In total, under the eye care programme, approximately 50,000 Jamaicans have been screened and more than 10,000 surgeries conducted,” he informed.

The Minister said that Jamaica has a good record in performing eye surgeries at public hospitals and other health facilities, with 18,180 procedures performed for the period 2005-2012, averaging about 2, 272 per year.

In his remarks, Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica, His Excellency Yasuo Takase, encouraged the JSB to complete the project on schedule, so that all beneficiaries of the institution can have improved access to much needed services in a timely manner.

“I would also like to encourage the beneficiaries to exploit their potential to the best of their capacity, taking an example of your very own past beneficiary, Senator Floyd Morrison, the first blind person in history to take up Presidency of the Jamaican Senate,” he added.

In expressing gratitude for the grant support, Chairman of JSB, Arthur Taylor, said it will assist in expanding the physical capacity of the organisation.

He commended those, who have contributed to the cause, and urged others to support the initiative.

“We intend to persevere until the office and ophthalmic equipment, furniture, patient information system, low vision devices, adaptive aids as well as staffing for the centre, are secured. The building will also need to be solarised to minimise recurring cost and ensure sustainability, before we can say we have a fully functional vision centre,” he said.