Kingston, Jamaica, May 13, 2022: On May 10, 2022, Lupus Foundation of Jamaica joined in with Lupus advocacy groups around the world in the nineteenth annual observance of World Lupus Day, in an effort to call attention to and increase support for persons with Lupus in Jamaica.
The Jamaica campaign, dubbed LUPUS LEVEL UP: Make Lupus Visible, leading up to the day consisted of a Social Media campaign, television and radio interviews featuring medical experts and Lupus survivors (termed “Lupus Warriors”), displays at clinics, schools and business places, as well as distribution of purple ribbons and merchandise, with the public being encouraged to wear purple on May 10 in solidarity with those affected. In addition, members of the Foundation organised walks (dubbed Make Strides for Lupus) and other activities in various locations across the island with images and recordings uploaded to Social Media pages.
The key event was a free mini- Health Fair held at Emancipation Park on May 10, where State Minister in Ministry of Health & Wellness, Juliette Cuthbert Flynn, and reigning Miss Jamaica World Khalia Hall participated in the Opening Ceremony hosted by radio personality Mr Shannon-Dale Reid. Other participants included President Elect of Medical Association of Jamaica Dr Leslie Meade and Board Members of Lupus Foundation of Jamaica. Loiette Donegan and Audrey Malcolm, members of the Foundation living with Lupus, respectively said a prayer and shared a poem “My Lupus Strides” prepared for the occasion. Both participated with the Minister and the Beauty Queen in a symbolic release of purple balloons.
President Dr Desiree Tulloch-Reid expressed gratitude to all those who took time to support the event and other activities. “It is heart-warming to see the outpouring of support being shown by the Government, personalities like Miss Jamaica World, the Medical Community, lupus warriors, volunteers, media and supporters by their presence with us today…It is our hope that greater understanding and continued support promoted by occasions like these will indeed save lives and improve outcomes.”
State Minister Flynn, in officially opening the event, commended the Foundation for it’s efforts. “The work of advocacy plays a vital role in ensuring that systems are in place to give support – connecting those affected with information and care to better their outcomes. I wish to commend the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica for its on-the-ground work in building a community of care for those affected by Lupus.”
Miss Jamaica World Khalia Hall spent quite some time interacting with Lupus Warriors, volunteers and Medical Professionals at the Event where she was seen graciously accommodating photo opportunities and conversations. She commented, “I have a close family friend with an autoimmune disease and though it is not lupus, I've seen how severely it can impact someone's health and personal life. There definitely isn't enough public awareness around lupus and so I feel grateful to be able to use my platform as Miss Jamaica World to help the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica to raise awareness around this debilitating disease.”
Attendees received free health checks including blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol checks, courtesy of National Health Fund with support of staff of Diabetes Association. Other Organisations participating in the Health Fair included Medical Professional associations like Jamaica Physiotherapy Association, Dermatology Association of Jamaica and Jamaica Kidney Kids who made presentations to attendees. Mandeville Regional Pathology unit were strongly represented including their head Dr Racquel Lowe-Jones, a board member and one of the Organisers of the event. She was accompanied by Dr Vitilius Holder of the Southern Regional Health Authority who treated attendees to an interactive Hula Hoop session that ended the day on a positive note.
For those unable to be present, a Live Broadcast by Riddim FM, hosted by Vernon Derby on his new show Spot On, kept listeners fully involved with interviews and conversations with health professionals, Lupus Warriors and volunteers. Sponsors of the event included Seaboard Jamaica, Guardian Group Foundation and National Health Fund.