DECEMBER 17, 2013


Good Morning to you all!

Lady Allen and I thank you for your warm welcome to the Annotto Bay Hospital.   We always enjoy when official duties take us outside of Kingston and provide us with an occasion to meet Jamaicans of all walks of life and to see first-hand about the reality of their daily existence.  Of course, the parish of St. Mary is very familiar to me and more so to Lady Allen, as this is the parish of her birth.

Our official visit this morning is part of my annual tour of hospitals across Jamaica.  Each year I select three or four hospitals and our faithful staff at King’s House make arrangements ace for Lady Allen and me to tour the institutions, visit with some of the patients and meet with the hospital’s management and staff.

This aspect of my work has brought me great joy and it is appropriately scheduled for the time of the year when we too can bring some joy and a sense of hope to all whom we encounter during the tour and this season of good cheer.

This one hundred and forty-six year old institution was devastated by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. I was heartened then, and even now, by the refurbishing exercise. These include:

o   The partnership between public and private sector entities  which was largely responsible for the $90 million of repairs undertaken and completed within a year;

o   The tangible support of the average Jamaican as a result of heightened public awareness  and collection drive spearheaded by the media;

o   Residents of St. Mary taking ownership of the hospital and making their contributions individually or through the fundraising efforts of the local church and school.

My own understanding of that experience is this: recognizing the importance of the hospital in their community, everyone wanted to be a part of the institution’s restoration process.  This is indeed commendable!

This is how we are going to build our nation, not only one block at a time, but also developing a heart to be a part of the community so that our efforts to make Vision 2030 a reality will meet with success.

The Annotto Bay Hospital like all others is charged with the responsibility of providing professional, reliable, caring and affordable health service to all those who are ill and seek treatment.  Its patients expect to receive:

o   Immediate attention

o   Be accurately diagnosed and

o   Receive the appropriate medical treatment

To assist you with achieving this primary objective, we have been assisted by the NCB Foundation and Negril International Hospital. Driven by their strong sense of corporate social responsibility, these two entities responded to some of your immediate needs.

We sincerely hope that the donation of a desktop aneroid blood pressure unit and the suction machines by the NCB Foundation, as well as the Hysterectomy Unit and other hospital supplies from Negril International Hospital as well as supplies by other donors, will prove beneficial to both medical personnel and patients as you give and receive service here.

I will use this opportunity also, to appeal to other civic minded companies in Corporate Jamaica as well as individuals and companies in the Diaspora to assist our hospitals in their quest to deliver and maintain quality service.  This is a challenge for developing countries and we must always keep this in mind.

I agree with the 20th century American writer, historian and philosopher Will Durant who stated that:

“The health of nations is more important

than the wealth of nations.”

Jamaica must continue to invest in the development of the health sector in order to have the human resource required to effectively participate in the ongoing mission towards of building a just society – speaking of which, the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr noted that:

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in

health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

May this never be the experience of anyone who seeks access to our health care system in Jamaica. I cannot end without paying tribute to the Admin., medical, nursing and support Staff of the Hospital for remaining undaunted to your duties in the face of challenges.  The work you do in the Conference Room, in the office and on the wards is commendable.

Finally, my sincere appreciation to those of you who will be away from your family during the Christmas season because of your hospital duties.  I thank the donors and our civic leaders, Friends of the Hospital, the community, the security and all who are involved in making today’s function a warm and happy occasion.

May God continue to bless the Hospital and may everyone experience the joy and peace of the Christmas season and a bright and prosperous New Year.

Thank you.