Friday, February 17, 2017

Research to find cure for national ills

Excerpt from Observer column published  6 FEB 2017
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

The UWI Research days last week gave us myriad examples of the power of research to improve our lives.  In the areas of medicine, agricultural science, social and environmental research, we can see its impact, and the benefits it would offer to Jamaica’s public sector transformation process. 

At a ‘Policy Research Impact Forum’, Rickert Allen, Senior General Manager at NCB said that his company underwent radical transformation since 2001, turning to research to develop a strategy that would take the once-failing bank to its number one position in Jamaica today. 

“There is a lot of research taking place, but no one is reading it,” said Mona Business lecturer Dr. Kadawame Knife. Interestingly, he noted that although there was not a strong research culture in Jamaica, the Jamaica Constabulary Force was one of the organizations that uses this resource to inform their strategy. I recall a group of young men on Orange Street in downtown Kingston making Clarke’s shoes knock-offs being rounded up, luckily by officers who had been trained in community policing. Instead of locking them up, the policemen recognised their talent and took them to the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC) for guidance.  With the help of JBDC and the Digicel Foundation, they are on their way to becoming young entrepreneurs, and Dr Knife who has been their mentor, can show you the excellent shoes they made for him.

In a spirited contribution, Prof. Dale Webber said that it was the in depth environmental research of the Kingston Harbour done by himself, his wife, Prof. Mona Webber and 25 graduate students that resulted in its rehabilitation.  Their study showed that the bacterial content of the harbour’s water was 250% above the accepted level, resulting in a stop to careless sewage disposal and the construction of the Soapberry facility. Dr. Webber said that his team’s research on the Kingston Harbour was so significant, that an entire bulletin of the Marine Science publication was dedicated to their findings.
Chairman of the UWI Research Days Committee, Professor Denise Eldemire Shearer harks back to a ‘policy wall’ her Mona Wellness Centre created years ago. It was out of this that the life-saving Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme (JADEP) was developed.

We should therefore support the call of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) to co-operate with their personnel who will be interviewing over 4000 families to establish their level of spend, and other key social and financial indicators.  It is only by gathering and analysing this data that planning for Poverty Alleviation Through Health and Education (PATH), low income housing, health and education can produce the results we so dearly want.

We must be clear that this rash of murders and crime cannot end with the treatment of symptoms, but with the use of strategic, energetic social reform to cure this horrible national condition.

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