Sunday Brew – May 3

Jodian’s death shows just how badly Jamaica needs Cuba

The most difficult thing these days is not to comment on the untimely and unwarranted demise of Ms Jodian Fearon, a charming member of the Jamaica workforce who fell victim to a shoddy health system that has let down Jamaicans for decades.

Yes, there will be investigations, but no investigation usually brings out the whole truth. Naturally, there has been condemnation, led by the prime minister, although I find it strange that Health Minister Dr Chris Tufton has seemingly absolved two hospitals of blame, while an investigation is continuing.

The health system has been in shambles long before Dr Tufton was even an idea. So no one should poke a finger in his direction and say he is to be held responsible for the horrific challenges that people seeking medical care face.

But the time has come for a concerted effort to be made to fund the sector properly. Despite the challenges that confront Cuba, that Caribbean island has managed to retain health care for its citizens at the top of its list of priorities. This has remained a reality despite 60 years of economic blockade by the United States, which eased a bit under President Obama, but has worsened since his departure.

Jamaica needs to engage Cuba even more. The Spanish-speaking, socialist country is exceedingly proactive when it comes to health care. On my last visit there, around five years ago, I was amazed to see the data that one of the country’s top biochemists, whom I interviewed, had on Jamaica.

He could tell me how many people in Port Maria had diabetes; how many amputations were done in St Ann for the year (by the way, he said that Jamaica was too hasty to amputate); or how many people in Cambridge, St James, were hypertensive. It was truly amazing. And I am certain that the Ministry of Health did not have such information then, nor does it, even with the addition of ‘Wellness’, have it now.

Cuba is always willing to engage Jamaica on matters such as this one. Prime Minister Holness means the people of this country well; everybody knows that. He should seek audience with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel to see how Jamaica’s health system can be improved.


Avoid the court hassle, compensate Jodian’s family

There is another side to the Jodian Fearon mess that can, and should be handled with haste and dignity. The family’s lawyer will be seeking redress through the courts — a process that could take ages and cause the already suffering few, considerable pain.

Yes, investigations have been ordered, one of them criminal in nature. Three, if not four hospitals have been implicated, and things may be done to hide certain information that will be vital to Jodian’s family in a court of law.

My advice to the Government is simply this: Settle with the family out of court. This, in the language of some lawyers, appears to be an ‘open and shut’ case, and the Government, through some of the institutions under its command, must be held responsible.

The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) is not wholly controlled by the Government, but it has influence, and it too, must do what is right.

Privately-operated Andrews Memorial Hospital cannot wash its hands of this matter. It was there that the young lady was booked originally to have her baby. Now, if I understand the workings of Andrews and other private institutions very well, nobody will tell you ‘good morning’ or even glance at you unless money is deposited to the institution for your care.

So while Andrews may have come under pressure in dealing with a technical matter, hence its decision to send Jodian elsewhere, it must face the music for accepting the patient in the first place. It offers a service, so if it was incapable of doing what was expected the hospital should not be in business.

Andrews, like the Government, and the UHWI, should avoid a court battle and compensate the family for its loss.


Why invest US$3 million without getting a licence?

My attention was drawn to an article in Friday’s Observer which said, among other things, that Mahoe Gaming, which is seeking a licence to operate another lottery company in Jamaica, wants to join as an interested party, the court action filed by deputy chairman of Supreme Ventures Ltd (SVL), Ian Levy, through SVL’s subsidiary, Prime Sports, against the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC).

Levy had asked the Supreme Court for a stay of proceedings, or an injunction, to prevent the BGLC from granting a licence to operate another lottery without doing a survey of what the market can accommodate.

What is interesting is that Mahoe Gaming stated in the affidavit carried by the Observer, that its technology partner had already invested US$3 million in the venture. Which technology partner is that? And why would there be such huge investment if a licence was not granted? Or was Mahoe Gaming promised that, rain or shine, it would be granted a licence? Something doesn’t seem right here.

US$3 million is a lot of money … well, to someone like me. So for such an investment to be made, there must have been an assurance given. It could also lead people to speculate whether or not there was collusion at any stage of the proceedings between the BGLC and Mahoe Gaming.

Do you put yourself in a state of readiness without knowing if you will be granted a licence? I wonder if those cities bidding to host the Olympic Games or World Cup start fixing up stadia and improving infrastructure before it is announced which one wins the bid.


Refreshing display by JCF band


Much has been said about the conduct of members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) — a mixed bag of professional, vulgar, crass, helpful … you name it.

Many among us (believe it or not) are unaware that there is a deep cultural side to the JCF and that the organisation actually has a band that provides music to those willing to embrace it.

Last Sunday, the JCF band staged a concert which lasted around 90 minutes. It was refreshing. Cable channels like JNN and PBS carried it, and it was also available on some of the social media platforms.

The performances were something I would pay to go out and watch on any given day. The song choices were encouraging … no Vybz Kartel, no this or that careless wielder of loose lyrics … it was top quality. Vocalists were smooth and mellow, especially the women, although a male inspector and a sergeant shone brightly in song and dance.

I have a bias for drummers in a band, and the man performing the honours was in form; so too the bass guitarist; and to top it all off a saxophonist closed the show in style.

The women providing harmony were great to look at. The force has really come a far way. In years past, you hardly saw a woman at the forefront, let alone the kind of attractive and beautiful women that the constabulary has been able to attract now.

It is only a pity that despite their immense talent, and the hard work that police personnel put out, they are, by and large, still woefully under-compensated.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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