JIS News

The Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund has committed $8.8 million to the Rotary Club of Kingston to cover the purchase of a HIV/AIDS testing machine for the National Public Health Laboratory.
So far, the Fund has confirmed its commitment by handing over 50 per cent of the deposit to the supplier of the CD4 Count flow cytometer for HIV/AIDS testing, to enable its purchase and subsequent commission for the end of the Rotary year in June.
For its part, the Rotary Club has raised over $2 million (and counting) from fundraising activities and corporate donations towards the purchase of the machine, which is a part of its ‘Rotary HIV/AIDS Support’ project. In the process the Club sought assistance from the Fund in raising the full amount required to implement the project.
Speaking at the weekly Rotary Club Meeting held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, Dr. Carlton Davis, Chairman of CHASE Fund, said that he was proud of the Fund’s partnership with the Rotary Club on the project, given the fact that the HIV/AIDS pandemic represented “one of the greatest threats to civilization”.
“An organization such as yours [Rotary Club] would be classified as civil society and, one of the things that I have always admired about organizations like yours is that, you walk the talk,” the Chairman pointed out.
“A lot of people talk a good game of making contributions to the development of society but, that is as far as it gets, you [Rotary Club] carry it much further and I congratulate you [Rotary Club] on that,” he added.
Noel Osbourne, chairman of the team overseeing the project to purchase the machine, lauded the involvement of the CHASE Fund in the project and, expressed the desire for, other organizations to follow suit in supporting worthwhile ventures.
“The generous donation by CHASE Fund will not only allow the Club to satisfy its commitment to the National Public Health Lab but, will also facilitate the implementation of the public awareness campaign targeting youth belonging to the Club,” he explained.
With a target of $10 million set for implementing the project, Minister of Health, John Junor launched the ‘Rotary HIV/AIDS Support’ project in October 2003.
“It was emphasized that although Rotary AIDS Support was a Rotary Club of Kingston initiative, HIV/AIDS was everybody’s business and that everyone, Rotarians and all individuals and corporations would be welcomed to lend a hand to facilitate implementation,” Mr. Osbourne said.
The idea for the project came out of an often expressed need by the National Public Health Laboratory over a number of years, for the purchase of a CD4 Count flow cytometer to facilitate an increase in testing for HIV/AIDS to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The benefits of having the machine are numerous. It will enable staff at the laboratory to provide monitoring and treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS. This ability is of significance, because once people have been diagnosed with HIV, at present, the local health services are unable to precisely monitor the course of illness.
Monitoring is particularly important as people who are HIV positive may continue to live without symptoms for many years after diagnosis and, patients who have developed AIDS, need to be closely monitored to determine how and to which treatments they are responding. At the moment, patients with access to health services overseas go abroad to be monitored as, and when, they can afford it.
The CD4 Count low cytometer will also enable patients attending the large haematology clinic at the Kingston Public Hospital to receive effective treatment. Doctors will have the capacity to determine which cell is the cancer cell and therefore which is the best therapy to combat the disorder.
The CHASE Fund, which was set up in 2002, went in operation in early 2003 to use the portion of the cess paid by the lottery company to fund projects in culture, health, arts, sports and early childhood education. Since its establishment, the Fund has approved 101 projects across these areas, valued at some $460 million.

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