Refrigerators to the rescue

Jun 29, 2013

The Kiwanis club president and the Jamaican Minister of Health

Here’s what can happen when Kiwanis members and government health workers talk to one another: Their country’s award-winning childhood immunization program gets even better.

It’s no surprise that discussions between the Kiwanis Club of Constant Spring, Kingston and Jamaica’s Ministry of Health ended up on the subject of the country’s Expanded Programme on Immunization. Established in 1977, the program recently was cited by the Pan-American Health Organization as a model for the region. Since its origin, a number of vaccine-preventable diseases have been eliminated and by extension, infant and child mortality reduced.

Given that the program’s largest focus remains on children under the age of seven, the Kiwanis club was inspired to purchase and donate two refrigerators to two health clinics in need. A country-wide list, provided by the Ministry of Health, gave the club the opportunity to see where the donations would be best suited.

“It is an excellent project that has a far-reaching effect on the Ministry of Health’s Expanded Programme on Immunization,” says past club President Rosemarie Heaven. “Noteworthy is the fact that they were assigned to two rural clinics where, presumably, the need is even greater.”

The York Town Health Clinic in Clarendon and Bethel Town Health Clinic in Westmoreland received the appliances, valued at JMD 100,000. Both clinics had previously been storing vaccines in old, broken refrigerators with insufficient space.

“The refrigerator has met a long-time need, as this area was without an adequately functioning refrigerator for several months and vaccines had to be stored at other facilities and then transported at the time of need,” explains Marcella Tomlinson, the EPI coordinator at the Clarendon Health Department. –Courtney Meyer

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