The Seventh-day Adventist Church, known for its belief and strong emphasis in whole-person health, has joined forces with Jamaica’s Ministry of Health to make an impact across the country in its fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Through the church’s Mission Project 2019 initiative themed “Wholistic Health for Personal and National Transformation,” the church has undertaken to adopt 100 government clinics under its adopt-a-clinic program, to bring about the upgrade of physical infrastructure where necessary and to educate Jamaicans who use the facilities, among other things.
Mission Project 2019
“We will encourage churches within the region where some 100 clinics were identified by the Ministry of Health to visit their local health facilities and identify opportunities to provide support to the health professionals,” explained Everett Brown, president of the Adventist Church in Jamaica, during a press conference held on January 8, 2019, at the church’s eastern region headquarters in Kingston.
“It may be in the form of assisting in improving or effecting repairs to the physical environment, such as painting, repairs, supplying equipment needed, as funds are available to make the working environment more attractive to workers and clients.”
The church will also provide qualified and competent personnel to make health education presentations through the Adventist Health Professionals Association (AHPA), which is present in each of the church’s five administrative regions.
“Good health today has to be described not as an occasion, it has to be more profoundly seen as a lifestyle,” said Jamaica Minister of Health Christopher Tufton. “It is not an event, as important as events are—it is a habit, what we practice on an ongoing basis. We have to get Jamaicans to recognize that their health cannot be occasioned by sporadic interventions of taking care of themselves.”
Tufton emphasized that for too long focus has been on the number of hospitals or the number of doctors, or the number of beds available in hospitals. "What that means is that we are focused more on the curative side of health care, fixing the problem after the problem exists, and minimal effort focused on how do we prevent the problem from getting there in the first place,” Tufton said.
Some of the projects included in Mission Project 2019 are health expos and health fairs, health symposiums and seminars, exercise clubs, health walks/runs, and cooking classes.
The epicenter of Mission Project 2019 is in the western region of Jamaica, where citizens in Savanna-la-mar, Lucea, and Santa Cruz will benefit. A major health expo will take place at the Sam Sharpe Square on February 2.
Endorsement of Jamaica Moves Program
The Seventh-day Adventist Church also used the occasion to endorse the Health Ministry’s Jamaica Moves program, which is in line with the church’s core values and beliefs in whole-person health.
"We commend the efforts of the Ministry of Health, in particular, Jamaica Moves, which emphasizes exercise, eating healthy, and adopting a healthful lifestyle. We are not only here to endorse the initiative, but we will be partnering with the MOH as we seek to improve the lives of our citizens,” Brown said.
“Today, for us, certainly for me, is a significant occasion,” Tufton added. “It represents an opportunity where the Seventh-day Adventist Church, its network of individuals and congregations across the country, its longevity of existence in Jamaica, and its philosophy of serving the whole man as opposed to part of it, is a match made in heaven.”
Since 2018, the Adventist Church has been involved in Mission Project 2019. In addition to the evangelistic aspect, a major component is a focus on health. Leaders said many health-related community outreach projects have been undertaken and will be carried out in various communities across the island through the country’s more than 750 congregations.
To give support to this significant health initiative, several dozen world church leaders, headed by Adventist Church president Ted N. C. Wilson, will be in Jamaica in February for a global leadership summit on healthy lifestyle. They will also join the churches in their activities across the western region communities already involved in promoting healthful living.
Plans are underway to share health presentations in various sectors and to groups including the security forces, teachers, business personnel, the clergy, and more, church leaders said.