JIS News

The government of Jamaica has launched the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) as part of efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate the scourge of crime and violence in the country.
The launch was held on November 10 on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, as part of the Faculty of Medical Sciences’ 13th annual research conference and workshop on ‘Violence and Violence Prevention’.
Health Minister, John Junor, who spoke at the opening of the three-day event, explained that the VPA would focus on preventing violence through an evidence-based public health approach and would be committed to implementing the recommendations arising out of the 57th World Health Assembly held in Geneva, Switzerland in May.
These are: to create, implement and monitor a national plan of action for violence; enhance capacity for collecting data on violence; define priorities for and support research on the causes, consequences, costs and prevention of violence; to strengthen responses for victims of violence; and to increase collaboration and exchange of information on violence prevention among other recommendations.
He observed, that the problem of violence required groups from all sectors and levels of society to unite and work together and the VPA would provide the forum for this “sort of networking and collaboration to occur”.
Dr. John F. Lindo, Microbiologist and conference chairman, told JIS News that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had sanctioned similar alliances across the world, which involved governments, oppositions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society, the private sector and schools working together to reduce violence.
“The alliance is expected to reduce morbidity and mortality related to violence. This is the major outcome of this year’s conference,” Dr. Lindo stated.
He informed, that in organising the conference, the medical faculty had decided to partner with the Ministry of Health to look at violence prevention, because of the high cost of violence to both hospital budgets and to the society at large.
According to reports from the Ministry, annual hospital costs for the care of injured patients have reached a billion dollars, with up to 50 per cent of this due to violence related injuries. Over 32,000 people were treated at public hospitals in 2003 for violence related injuries, and approximately 10 per cent required admission. “The high prevalence of violence is retarding the developmental goals of the country,” he lamented.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the JIS News, Dr. Ivor Crandon, Senior Lecturer and Consultant Neurosurgeon at the University Hospital of the West Indies lauded sponsors for their contribution to the conference, which he said, served to highlight “a serious public health problem facing the nation”.
The CHASE Fund was among several organisations that provided assistance, contributing over $250,000 in addition to sponsoring research, valued at $1.6 million, some of which was presented on the last day of the conference. Among the papers presented, was the preliminary result of a study of opportunistic intestinal parasitic infections among persons living with HIV/AIDS in Jamaica, by Dr. John Lindo et al. Pharmaceutical companies and private sector agencies including financial institutions and car dealerships, also contributed to the conference.

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