By Derrick Scott
WASHINGTON, USA — The Vin Martin Memorial Health Mission, formerly known as the Atlanta Montego Bay Sister Cities Health Mission, has provided medical assistance to tune of US$6 million and has seen just over 50,000 patients over the last 25 years during annual health mission to Montego Bay.
According to the chairman of the Atlanta Montego Bay Sister Cities Committee, Dr Yvonne Smith, “Our health mission has over the past 24 years invested in the lives of over 50,000 individuals in St James, at a cost of over US$6 million in professional services, medical equipment and pharmaceutical supplies. None of our projects and programs would be possible without the dedication of our members and continued support of the citizens of Atlanta and Montego Bay.”
Smith offered her overview of the health mission at the 25th anniversary gala of the Atlanta Montego Bay Sister Cities on Saturday, September 29.
The yearly health mission to Montego Bay is a labour of love by the members of her organization, she went on to explain. “We regard the health mission as the most important arm of our city sister relationship as it is our way of giving back to the city of Montego Bay and helping assist the less fortunate in providing well needed healthcare services.”
Proceeds from this year’s gala will go towards purchasing medical supplies and other medical equipment that will be donated to health institutions in Montego Bay. In addition, she said, the organization plans to establish a unit at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in honour of the late chairman, Vin Martin, who was founder of the health mission.
Meanwhile, mayor of Montego Bay and chairman of the St James Municipal Corporation, Homer Davis, used his address to laud members of the Atlanta Montego Bay Sister Cities Health Mission for its 25 years of their selfless service to citizens of St. James. “Each year, your health mission team comes together and your members and supporters give selflessly to address the healthcare needs of Montego Bay. I want to thank and praise you for this remarkable, tangible expression of love for Montego Bay.”
Davis told the over 500 guests in attendance that “the health mission’s assistance to Montego Bay, in the critical area of healthcare, represents a major contribution towards the nation’s health sector and therefore, towards the country’s development.”
Davis said he was heartened that the services being rendered were to the medically under-served citizens of St James as any effort to help in supporting the government’s healthcare program is most welcome as the government cannot do it alone.
The mayor had high praise for the sister cities committee as well as members of the medical team – some of the finest physicians, nurses and volunteers, who journey to Montego Bay every year to deliver healthcare at no cost. He said the well-known, mutually beneficial relationship between the cities of Atlanta, Georgia, and Montego Bay, St James, which started in 1972, “has grown from strength to strength and has brought tremendous benefits to our citizens in numerous ways.”
Delivering greetings from the city of Atlanta, director of international affairs, Vanessa Ibarra, congratulated the Sister Cities health mission for its hard work of dedicated volunteer service to the citizens of Montego Bay. She offered that the Committee stands out as a shining beacon among Atlanta’s 18-city sister city relationships” involving Atlanta, and commended its work promoting the welfare of others through innovated programs, vision and philanthropic contributions.
For her part, Jamaica’s ambassador to the United States, Audrey Marks, in her message to mark the occasion, commended the Atlanta Montego Bay Sister Cities Committee for its tireless service to the citizens of Montego Bay. “I am pleased to note that the partnership forged between Montego Bay and Atlanta under the aegis of sister city International of 1972 continues to bear fruit and has proven quite beneficial for residence Jamaica’s second city. I admire your passion and dedication to serving the medical needs for more than 50,000 residents of Montego Bay and surrounding areas for the past 26 years.”
Marks also underscored the importance of the Atlanta Montego Bay Sister Cities Committee, which conducts screening to detect illnesses and provide education and counseling to patients.
“Your initiative in the western end of the island certainly compliments the efforts of the government of Jamaica,” the ambassador added.
Atlanta and Montego Bay joined forces as sister cities in 1972 under a formal declaration of the representative mayors and city council of both cities. The twinning of Atlanta and Montego is the second largest relationship Atlanta has with 18 sister cities