Current Affairs

Current Affairs




560 wheelchairs donated to health ministry
Jamaica Observer
Tuesday, November 19, 2002


Elder Rodney Showalter of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helps Mona High School Student Kemar Cummings, into one of the wheelchairs handed over to the health ministry yesterday. (Photo: John Nicholson)

THE Wheelchair Foundation, a United States-based non-profit organisation yesterday donated 560 wheelchairs, valued at more than $5 million, to the Ministry of Health.

Patients at public hospitals and the Mona Rehabilitation Foundation will benefit from the donation. In addition, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will get some of the chairs to distribute as part of their outreach programmes.

"It is a really generous donation and we are assuring you that we will make the best use of it," Judith Kirlew, director of Health Services, Support and Monitoring at the Ministry of Health said.
According to Kirlew, the ministry is particularly grateful that of the 560 chairs, 180 are for children.

Wheelchair Foundation's director of distribution, Frederick Gerhard, said since its inception the foundation has distributed approximately 95,000 chairs to 91 countries.
"When we started the foundation in 2000 we set a target that we would distribute one million wheelchairs in 100 countries and Jamaica was among the countries we targeted," Gerhard told the Observer.

According to Gerhard, the foundation estimated that there are nearly 100 million persons worldwide, or nearly two per cent of every country's population needs wheelchairs but cannot afford to buy it.

"That's where we come in, and we have pleasure serving these persons," he said, noting that the foundation gets funding from several individuals, companies and organisations in the United States.
Yesterday's donation, he said, was partly funded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah.

He also announced that an additional shipment of 240 wheelchairs is en route to Jamaica to be delivered to a local Rotary Club, which provided part funding for the chairs.