JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Health professionals on location were carrying out blood pressure, blood sugar and mental health checks, as well as HIV testing and drug testing.
  • Dubbed ‘Tek it to Dem’, the project is a homeless outreach project, funded by the Global Fund.
  • RGD, Tax Administration and Ministry of National Security were also present to assist the homeless in obtain birth certificates, TRN and NIS cards.

Approximately 300 homeless persons have been  given medical checks, and feted by the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), and its team of volunteers.

The NCDA brought its fourth ‘Tek it to Dem’ Wellness and Information Fair to the grounds of the Marie Atkins Night Shelter, on Hanover Street, downtown Kingston yesterday (March 14), where the homeless and other citizens gathered to take advantage of the services on offer in a party like atmosphere.

Medical doctors and other health professionals were in high constant demand carrying out blood pressure, blood sugar and mental health checks, as well as HIV testing and drug testing.

Also on hand were trainees from the HEART School of Cosmetology and Del’s Beauty School who were offered manicures and pedicures, transforming the physical appearance of many with their hairdressing and barbering talents.

Project Co-ordinator, Jhanille Brooks, said ‘Tek it to Dem’ is a homeless outreach project, funded by the Global Fund, that seeks to give comprehensive health care to the homeless. It targets homeless substance abusers, especially those infected with HIV/AIDS in Kingston, St. Andrew and St. Catherine.

“It is an HIV and Substance Abuse prevention project for the homeless, but we also do feeding and we take them to the doctor where they might need to go. We help them to reintegrate into society (which) is the main aim of the project,” Ms. Brooks said.

She informed there is a homeless population of about 600 persons in the Corporate Area and that the NCDA had dispatched its bus to pick up persons off the streets and take them to the fair.

During the day there were two lines facilitating registration, one for the homeless and the other for the general population.  “It is hard to turn away the general public. We are registering the general public but it is primarily for the homeless but if there are members of the public here who can get some of the services, we are not going to turn them away. But we want the homeless persons to get the services first before public,” the Project co-ordinator explained.

This year, the NCDA also invited the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to participate in the fair in an effort to equip homeless persons to begin the processing of applications for birth certificates, taxpayer registration numbers and National Insurance Scheme (NIS).

The NCDA is an agency of the Ministry of Health and is the national source for drug information and programmes, and providing assessment, treatment and referrals for clients.