Hundreds of residents in St. Thomas have benefited from the staging of health fairs under the Beyond the Horizon project, conducted by the United States Army in partnership with the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and the Ministry of Health and Environment.
The Yallahs High School hosted military and health personnel, who erected tents and provided medical care, free of cost, including dental, ophthalmological and medical screening for more than 300 persons, on Tuesday (March 31).
Hypertensive senior citizen Kathlyn Laing and her husband, who arrived for the health fair from as early as 3:30 a.m., said she wanted to reach before daybreak, to beat the rush.
Marianne Pierce of the United States army, distributes medical supplies, free of cost, to residents of St. Thomas who attended the free health fair, which was conducted under the Beyond The Horizon project of the military, in conjunction with the Jamaica Defence Force, at the Yallahs High School, in the parish, on March 31.
“I feel justified about the programme,” said Mrs. Laing, clutching the vitamins and blood pressure tablets she received. “I would like to have them (here) many more times,” she added.
The school was also the venue for the opening ceremony of the Beyond the Horizon project in Jamaica. Under the project, thousands of Jamaicans are to benefit from the humanitarian efforts of the United States military, joining forces with the JDF, the Health Ministry and other government agencies.
Some of the more than 200 residents who turned out at the Beyond The Horizon Health Fair, at Yallahs High School, in St. Thomas, on March 31. The health fair, which offered free services, such as dental and blood pressure checks, was hosted by the United States military, in collaboration with the Jamaica Defence Force, Ministry of Health and other government agencies.
More than 200 military personnel are deployed in the country, undertaking health fairs as well as construction and renovation work islandwide until May 2009.
The project started in the mid-1980s with an aim to help improve the quality of life for residents in local communities, while providing opportunities for the service men and women to refine their engineering, medical, mobilisation and deployment skills.
The project is being held in four areas: Moneague, St. Ann; Portmore, St. Catherine; Montego Bay, St. James and Yallahs, St. Thomas.
Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health and Environment, Dr. Sheila Campbell-Forrester, expressed gratitude to the armed forces for assisting with the construction of the Yallahs Health Centre, which had been destroyed by Hurricane Dean in 2007.
“I Just want to say how grateful we are to the armed forces of both countries, as they work together and learn from each other, in the engineering and outreach work that they are doing, and we know that this project will be a very successful one,” Dr. Campbell-Forrester emphasised.
Commander of the United States military personnel participating in the project, Colonel William Walker, said his team was pleased to be working in Jamaica.
“We have contributed resources, and you have contributed resources. We have contributed our people, and you have contributed your people. It is the ‘can do’ spirit of the Jamaican people that I have been touched by, and I admire,” Colonel Walker said.
Lieutenant Colonel Derrick Robertson, of the JDF, said that outside of providing security for the United States military personnel while they are in the island, the Jamaican soldiers also benefit from the project, as local service men and women are learning, first-hand, how a developed nation conducts such an exercise.
“All round it’s a good experience and at the end of the day, the Jamaican public benefits,” Colonel Robertson said.
The Beyond the Horizon project in Jamaica started on March 7, when United States military engineers, working in cooperation with the JDF, broke ground for the construction of a new facility at the Portmore Health Clinic.