JIS News

They came out in their numbers to bid a fond farewell to the man they have come to know and love for two years shy of a decade.
No, it was not his funeral even though for some, it was surely a sad occasion, as they will miss greatly, his bright smile, infectious personality and most of all, the warmth that he so generously shared around the Ministry of Health.
Gathering at the tastefully decorated Urban Development Corporation (UDC) poolside at the Oceana Building on King Street for an evening of appreciation for outgoing Minister of Health, John Junor, on April 27, staff expressed warm tributes to the man, who managed to touch their hearts in various ways throughout his tenure.
As the speakers from various agencies and entities associated with the Ministry paraded to the podium, there was one message punctuating the tributes: “Minister Junor was always fair and always wanted to know both sides”.
Indeed, this was a testament to the measure of the man, as even if the ruling handed down was not in the favour of the complainant, they felt at least he had heard their side of the story.
Then, there were recollections of the warm, pleasant smile, which radiated in its true glory in the mornings as he greeted staff when entering the building. This was especially encapsulated in the remarks by a wheelchair-bound, Christine Keene, on behalf of the front office staff, who was effusive in her praise of Mr. Junor’s generous personality.
Others joked that many thought he was a medical doctor given his expansive knowledge of health issues. In fact, Dr. Ernest Pate, Pan-American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) Representative in Jamaica, Bermuda and Cayman Islands, said in his remarks on behalf international agencies, that his international associates in Geneva, Switzerland could not be convinced that the Minister was not a medical doctor. “Up to this day they believe that he is a doctor,” he quipped.
Gold Medallist at the world championships of the performing arts in California last year, Karla Josephs, who is the daughter of Public Relations Manager at the Ministry, Beverley Josephs, paid tribute to the Minister with a heartfelt rendition of ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’.
Not to be outdone, the “thespians” as they call themselves, brought the house down with their highlights of the Minister’s tenure in song. It was this talented bunch from the Ministry, who accompanied Mr. Junor’s carolling, when he insisted on doing something different last Christmas to bring cheer to each floor at the Ministry.
In his response to the outpouring of love, the affable Minister attributed his success to the dedicated staff working in the health sector. This, was in addition to noting that the various improvements in the health sector over the years was due to the legacy of successive governments, recognising that consensus was needed in order to forge ahead.
“It was one area in which there was no need to have a fight. There was always national focus and agreement in terms of health issues,” he said, while thanking his colleagues.
He had a few helpful words for incoming Minister, Horace Dalley, who he said, has been a friend for more than 30 years. Mr. Junor said his colleague would more than distinguish himself in his new portfolio as he did with his previous assignments, even when some of his decisions were unpopular. “He always stood up to the challenge,” he pointed out.
“People will follow if you lead with compassion and humility,” he advised Minister Dalley.
Mr. Junor also shared his secret for success with the new Minister, by bequeathing to him the source of all his knowledge, a medical book published by PAHO.
Before serving as Minister of Health from 1998 to 2006, Mr. Junor was Minister of Tourism in the Office of the Prime Minister from 1995-1997 and Minister of Local Government, Youth and Sport from 1993-1995. As Minister of Health, he will be most remembered for the establishment of the National Health Fund, which was officially launched in November 2003. The Fund was launched as part of the Ministry’s efforts to tackle the rising problems of chronic diseases among Jamaicans.