Fri | Dec 8, 2023

‘Unbelievable success’

Jamaica-born Dr Robert Clarke describes health mission as exhausting but rewarding

Published:Monday | September 25, 2023 | 12:09 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer
Patients waiting to see the medical team during its visit to St Catherine.
Patients waiting to see the medical team during its visit to St Catherine.
People waiting to see the medical team in Smithville, Clarendon.
People waiting to see the medical team in Smithville, Clarendon.

Dr Robert Clarke has described a recently concluded health mission to Jamaica as exhausting but very rewarding.

Speaking with The Gleaner, Clarke said he was always left with a good feeling when giving back to Jamaica and assisting people who are underserved.

The 25-member Help Jamaica Medical Mission visited the island from September 6 to 14, during which it travelled to Manchester, Clarendon, St Catherine, St Thomas, and Kingston and saw and treated close to 4,000 individuals who came out for consultations with the medical team.

Patients ranging in age from four years old to 94 were seen by the team, which also dispensed various medications – some as much as a year’s supply – handed out hundreds of pairs of glasses, and checked persons for various ailments.

Clarke, the Jamaica-born founder and president of Help Jamaica Medical Mission, described this year’s project as an “unbelievable success”.

“We saw a lot of patients during the seven days. Some were follow-up visits, but a lot were new patients who came out to have their blood pressure, blood sugar levels, hypertension, and other symptoms checked by members of the team,” he said.

He pointed out that for the most part, elderly patients were given a year’s supply of medication while young patients got medication for a shorter period.

‘We were heartened by the love, respect, and happiness displayed by those who came to see us. We did not turn away anyone and saw everyone who turned up at the sessions,” he told The Gleaner.

He pointed out that the sessions started at 10 in the morning, and on most nights, ended after 9 p.m.

The mission leader further disclosed that for this trip, the health mission added new sites to the ones visited in the past.

“We have been getting lots of calls asking that we add other sites for our visit next year,” he said.

Clarke noted that his greatest satisfaction came from the fact that all the team members have expressed a desire to be part of the mission next year and have committed to undertaking further missions.


Seventy-nine-year-old Gwendolyn Thompson, who came to have her blood sugar and blood pressure checked in St Thomas, lauded the mission members for the courtesy they displayed towards her.

“They were very patient and took the time to listen to me,” she said.

Thompson said she heard about the mission through her church and came out early to be sure that she saw the doctors.

“I was not going to miss an opportunity to get treated,” she said.

Thompson, who also complained of pain in her joints, said she was given medication that would last her for a while.

“I am very happy with what they are doing,” she said.

Twenty-eight-year-old Umbertta Edwards came out to see the medical team in Clarendon for an overall check-up.

“I was told about the mission and came by to see the doctors,” she said.

Several school children also received back-to-school medical examinations from members of the team.

The youngest person seen by the team was a four-year-old girl who needed treatment for a scalp irritation.

The medical mission was made up of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical professionals drawn from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Florida.