JIS News

Minister of Health and Environment, Rudyard Spencer, has said that despite the significant progress being made by the Ministry in improving health services, the sector remained challenged by the scourge of violence in society.
The Minister made this declaration in a speech, read by Chief Medical Officer of Health in the Ministry, Dr. Sheila Campbell-Forrester , at the ‘Peace for Prosperity’ function on Tuesday (March 3), at the Ministry’s downtown Kingston offices, to mark Peace Day 2009.
“The health sector has been suffering greatly due to the overwhelming burden of crime and violence,” Mr. Spencer stated, noting that statistics indicate that violence costs the health sector $2.2 billion annually.
Citing 2007 hospital-based data, which suggest that violence was the chief source of injuries in Jamaica, Minister Spencer pointed out that this has had a negative impact on the use of operating theatres, as patients scheduled for routine surgery have had to be displaced to accommodate victims of violence, who often require intensive care. “This is a disproportionate use of health providers’ time,” he lamented.
Noting that the origin of these violence-related injuries was rooted in behaviour and patterns of socialisation that begin early in life, the Minister said that understanding these patterns has been the focus of research and analysis by the Ministry, in order to determine the most appropriate interventions and the development of a model of violence prevention strategy.
“The Ministry of Health has assumed a major role of providing data on the magnitude of the problem of violence and measuring the risk and resiliency behavioural factors. This role of monitoring and evaluation is evidenced in the research studies undertaken and the establishment of the Jamaica Injury Surveillance System (JISS) functioning in major hospitals islandwide,” he informed.
He said that routine reports were generated by this system, and data shared among the Ministries of Health, National Security and Justice.
He further informed that hospital-based violence prevention interventions were being carried out at selected hospitals, with the aim to ensure that victims of violence receive referral services and conflict resolution.
“Through the Health Promotion and Protection Division of the Ministry, we have been working closely with schools and communities to promote the culture of peace. With the support of our many partners, we have been making great progress through our Learning for Life programme; the Change from Within programme and other joint education initiatives,” Minister Spencer pointed out.
In her remarks, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Jamaica, Deputy Representative, Nada Marasovic, said that Peace Day provides an opportunity for individuals “to stand together as advocates of peace and to affirm our belief that we can fight violence with peace.”
“Peace cannot be achieved through wishful thinking. It has to be achieved through the delivery of effective and efficient services, through community commitment, through the eradication of violence, through dedicated service professionals and through the collection and dissemination of relevant data and the sharing of best practices,” she stated.
The ‘Peace for Prosperity’ celebration was organised by the Health Promotion and Protection Division of the Ministry. It forms part of a two-month peace campaign by the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA), which will include public education sessions; an entertainer and media managers forum; a march for peace on March 8; and various community activities.

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