More than 2,000 residents of St. James are expected to benefit from free health services and medical supplies over the next three days, as the Atlanta-Montego Bay Sister City Health Mission stages its 19th annual visit to the island.
The mission got underway on Monday at the St. John's Methodist Church in Montego Bay, with the 40-member team of health professionals from the United States offering services in ophthalmology, gynaecology and obstetrics, paediatrics, internal medicine, dentistry, nursing, podiatry, and pharmacology services.
They will be joined by local doctors, nurses, and non-medical volunteers.
Jamaica's Honorary Consul in Atlanta, Vin Martin, who is leading the mission, said the team, which is larger than previous years, is hoping to reach more people.
He said that in addition to services offered at the church, the health professionals will also be doing outreach in the communities of Barrett Town, Lottery, and Somerton.
"This is a hardworking team. We start at 8:30 in the mornings, and we get out of this centre about 7:00 at nights. We are going to serve everybody that shows up and we are quite happy to serve," he said.
Mr. Martin had high praises for the local committee and the persons, who volunteer their time at the church to assist and provide the services.
"We can bring as many doctors and nurses that we want to, but unless we have the cooperation and the groundwork laid here, nothing happens. Nothing works without the local committee. It is truly a sister-to-sister partnership about which we are truly excited, and we look forward to continue this relationship to the indefinite future," he said.
Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Glendon Harris, who declared the mission open, noted that thousands of Jamaicans have benefitted from the mission over the years, and "we have had some good testimonies from persons that have been to this health fair, and the number of persons that attend has grown because of the quality of health care that is offered here".
"We express our gratitude to Vin Martin for leading and ensuring that this sister cities relationship continues and is strengthed from year to year. We have benefitted through education, through commerce, cultural exchanges and transportation management. We have been the better since we started this relationship," the Mayor said.
Local chairman of the mission, Fred Smith, stated that the service provided through the annual mission is invaluable. “We can’t put a dollar figure on it. If people are healthy, it gives them an opportunity to go out there and produce. It is a significant contribution to Jamaica,” he said.
The mission is undertaken in association with the St. James Parish Council, with support from the St. James Health Department.
The Atlanta Montego Bay Sister Cities Committee was established in 1972 by reciprocal agreements between Mayors of Atlanta and Montego Bay. This year, the group will also be collaborating with the Jamaica AIDS Support group to reach some of their members.