Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says the Government has drafted a policy relating to gifts and donations, to enhance the mobilisation of resources for the health sector, particularly from charitable organisations.
"We have drafted the policy on gifts and donations to ensure an effective system of accepting, documenting and distributing all resources mobilised for the health sector; and to improve the framework within which donors operate and relate to the Ministry," he explained.
Speaking at a brief ceremony prior to a tour of the Food for the Poor Jamaica facility in Ellerslie Pen, Spanish Town, St. Catherine, on February 24, the Minister said the policy would also seek to enhance accountability and transparency in the resource mobilisation system.
Dr. Ferguson further informed that guidelines have also been developed to govern gifts and donations in an effort to establish the step-by-step approach to processing these gifts and donations, which may include cash or services.
"This document sets out the roles and functions of the key stakeholders of the Ministry of Health and their interaction with the donor community," he said.
Citing Food for the Poor as “an important partner in health service delivery,” the Minister said the organisation would play a major role in this thrust for increased mobilisation of health resources, adding that the Government intended to strengthen its partnership with the charitable organisation in this regard.
“I am excited about what a strengthened partnership with this organisation will mean to the health sector. I would like to see a more strategic role in terms of your assistance in mobilising resources for the health sector,” he said.
The Minister lauded the organisation for the “decades of work that it has done in assisting those who are poor and powerless and those who, because of unfortunate circumstances, have become marginalised and vulnerable.”
“The health sector continues to be a beneficiary of the generosity of this entity. Over the years, hundreds of millions of dollars of pharmaceuticals, equipment and medical sundries have been donated to the health sector,” he noted, adding that the donations have had a significant impact on access to health care.
Board Chairman of Food for the Poor, Andrew Mahfood, said the organisation and its international ‘sister organisation’, Food For the Poor Incorporated, are dedicated to ongoing support of the Ministry of Health.
“Health is one of our most vital areas of support and we are fully committed to providing the Ministry with every assistance possible…We believe that there will be greater contribution to health care this year, in the areas of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment and supplies,” he said.
During his visit, Minister Fenton also presented Senior Director for Recipient Services at Food for the Poor, Deacon Ron Burgess, with a letter of acceptance for pharmaceuticals, which the organisation is donating to the Ministry for distribution to the various public health facilities across the island.
The organisation’s Director of Health Care Services, Susan Moore, told JIS News that she was pleased with the Minister’s speedy response to the organisation’s invitation to accept a donation of pharmaceuticals, noting that one of the problems often faced is the drugs expiring, due to delays in response to offers.
During the tour of the organisation’s medical warehouse facility, the Minister was shown a 40-foot container of drugs that will be destroyed as they have expired.
The largest charity organisation in Jamaica, Food for the Poor partners with a number of stakeholders, including churches, non-governmental and private sector organisations, children’s homes and service organisations throughout the island that deal directly with the poor to fill their most urgent needs and to encourage self-sufficiency.
The organisation’s goal is to improve the health, economic, social and spiritual conditions of the men, women and children it serves through emergency relief aid and ministries in the areas of housing, food, medicine, water, sanitation, education, agriculture, outreach and micro-enterprise.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter