Kingston, January 16 – The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange is urging the country’s sports bodies to register their athletes with the Jamaican Athletes’ Insurance Plan.
The Jamaican Athletes’ Insurance Plan is the Government’s Group Health, Group Life and Personal Accident Plan for all eligible national athletes.
Speaking at the Opening of the upgraded Administrative Building of the Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) at Independence Park Complex today (Wednesday), Minister Grange said:
“It has been frequent that athletes with severe health problems turn to Government for help. And we have provided assistance in just about every case. But it is very troubling to realise that some of those very same athletes could have benefitted from coverage under the Jamaican Athletes’ Insurance Plan if only they were registered through their associations or federations, or had made direct contact with the Ministry to initiate the process.”
The Minister referred to the case of the boxer, Sakima Mullings, who is severely ill but is not on the Insurance Plan. Sakima was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary condition affecting the retina in his left eye, which also causes sensitivity to light.
“When I hear about cases such as Sakima’s, it pains my heart and I would like him to know that we are praying for his full recovery. More than that, already we have decided to provide Sakima with $1M to help him to meet his medical expenses. The Ministry is in close contact with the Jamaica Boxing Board of Control as we seek to find out what further assistance we could give,” Minister Grange said.
Minister Grange said that getting athletes registered with the Plan was very important, so much so that there is a full-time administrator working on the Athletes’ Insurance Plan in the Ministry.
“The Ministry has constantly called for sporting associations to join the plan to insure national athletes or those in development squads preparing to represent Jamaica. I make the appeal, persons in my Ministry make the appeal, but still there are many eligible athletes who have not been registered,” the Minister said.
So far, only 1300 athletes are registered with the Insurance Plan and according to the Minister, “for a country like Jamaica with such outstanding athletes we should have more than 1300”.
Sports people eligible to be covered under the Plan must be a member in good standing with the national association or federation. They must be enrolled in the national development programme for a specific sporting discipline. They must participate in at least two Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission training sessions per year.