Monday, 6 November 2017

AGENTS OF CHANGE: Two non-profit bodies step up the fight against human rights abuses

ALL LIVES MATTER: The work of groups like the CVCC is steeped in demanding respect for citizens' rights.

WITH the aim of strengthening the role played by civil society organizations in Jamaica to promote human rights and democratic governance, two not-for-profit organizations have joined forces.

The Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVCC) and the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition (JCSC) have partnered to implement a two-year human rights project, with funding support from the European Union, to make strides in building civil society capacity to monitor and advocate across a range of issues and to fortify response to violations of the rights of vulnerable populations, including the LGBT community, HIV patients, sex workers, addicts, ex-convicts and migrants.

At the same time, the project is expected to promote gender equality and increase participation in national policy dialogue and target policymakers and the general public. A significant part of the project involves research on human rights and policy issues. The CVCC/JCSC partnership is expected to produce three pieces of research on specific topics based on needs identified.

First up is a look at Jamaica’s health-care system, which has undergone several reforms since Independence. A recent public forum at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel provided the setting for the team to present the findings of the health economics research, which assessed, specifically, the performance and functioning of the health-care system and its approach to human rights.

The research has brought to light some alarming facts. Chief among them: varying levels of implementation of standards and protocol by regional health authorities resulting in inequities in service provision across the island AND chronic shortage of drug and medical supplies, which has been impacting the health outcome of patients.

Among the recommendations: continued reorganization of the health ministry and strengthening the health planning, maintenance of standards and audit functions of the MOH. The coalition is also recommending:
a) The establishment of a comprehensive health information system to provide real-time information on patient history
b) The implementation of a reformation plan for the development of community mental health services
c) A review of the Health Facilities (Medical Laboratories) Act and Regulations to strengthen policy and legislative framework
d) Collaboration between the MOH, the National Public Health Lab (NPHL) and other agencies to improve the supply chain management system, equipment maintenance and the steady supply of commodities to increase efficiency. 

Established in 2004, the CVCC (led by Executive Director Dr. Carolyn Gomes) is the Caribbean’s largest indigenous regional coalition of civil society organizations and community leaders responding to human rights issues. The JCSC, whose leaders include Carol Narcisse, brings together civil society bodies and individuals interested in shaping policy. 

GET INVOLVED! To learn more about the work of the CVC Coalition and to pledge your support, visit them at Suite #1 1D-1E Braemar Avenue, Kingston 10. Email; Phone 631-7219 or log on to

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