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Some 750-medical students from 80-countries, have been challenged by Prime Minister Bruce Golding, to commit themselves to not just caring for the sick but to address some of the social issues and to build the practice of medicine, so that it is not just available to those who can afford it.
Mr. Golding was addressing the opening ceremony for the 57th Annual General Assembly of the International Federation of Medical Students Association, at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort and Spa in Ocho Rios last night (Aug 7). This is the first time that the organisation is meeting in Jamaica.
Mr. Golding congratulated the students on choosing the theme ‘Nutrition and Health’, noting that countries like Jamaica faced the risk of losing human material because of malnutrition. He said Jamaica was not paying enough attention to lifestyle diseases and people here and in the developed countries, continue to be ignorant of the importance of healthy lifestyles. He said Jamaica has tried to address this problem in particular ways, through the expansion of the PATH programme from 240,000 to bringing into the net some 360,000 people, who are living below the poverty line. Government he noted, had also removed the hospital fees in public hospitals.
Mr. Golding said Government would be launching a public education programme on healthy lifestyles and would be expanding the capacity, to address the problems of those who are marginalised. He told the medical students that they are faced with a contradictory responsibility. “You have committed yourselves to the medical profession but you owe it to yourselves and the world to become more than practitioners. You have the responsibility of ensuring that people remain well so they do not need your services. Medicine is not just about bringing in patients. You have to go beyond caring for the sick. You owe it to the world to go further. You have to help make the world well”, he said.
In his address to the students, Principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Gordon Shirley, commended the Jamaica Medical Students Association, for successfully negotiating the hosting of the Assembly in Jamaica, during the year that the UWI is celebrating its 60th anniversary.
Professor Archibald McDonald, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the UWI, said the theme ‘Nutrition and Health’ was especially important at this time, as the world faced a serious food crisis and chronic diseases are on the rise.
In his special address to the medical student, Chancellor of the UWI, Sir George Alleyne, noted that Prime Minister Golding’s presence at the Assembly signalled the importance that the Jamaican Government places on the health of the nation.