New Cries: Students Painstakingly Struggle To Buy PPE, Wonder Why


It has been some eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and we as students are no less anxious and worried as we were the very first day our clinical training suddenly halted. Of course, we understand that the exigencies of the pandemic forced the hands of the University of the West Indies to take drastic steps for our protections; but, a word to the wise is sufficient…UWI, PLEASE KEEP UP THE SAME ENERGY!

Well, not really because it really ain’t cute what UWI is doing, or rather not doing. The online thing is well overdue to end, and the time is coming where clinical students are to return to the hospitals but at a cost. Now, you would think that I am only referring to tuition and miscellaneous fees, but no my dear, I am talking about personal protective equipment (PPE). You read it right. Apparently, nearly Four Million Jamaican Dollars is not enough to procure some gowns, masks, and gloves for us students.

Instead, UWI gave us a list of must-have PPEs for clinicals, accompanied by a price list for allegedly subsidized options. The price list is as follows:

  • Box of 50 Masks: J$3,000
  • Box of 100 Gloves: $850
  • Case of 10 Gowns: $5,300

It’s the audacity for me, to be honest! It’s the “We don’t care if COVID has adversely affected your finances” for me! It’s the insensitivity for me! It’s the…shall I continue? Doesn’t the University understand the fiscal dynamics of the majority of the students they serve? We broke! It is already a struggle to pay our tuition, why must we have to choose between continuing our training, or leave of absence, because we cannot fork out thousands of dollars to protect ourselves from contracting the virus? That making any sense?

It is high time for us as students to stand up and make our voices heard. For too long we have suffered in silence while there is wanton disregard for that fact that we are simply trying to navigate the waters of this University so that we can save a life. We really don’t need this added stress.

I must shout out our Guild President, Mr. Sujae Boswell, who has advocated on our behalf. Rumor has it that UWI agreed to remove late fees for all programs whose tuition fees are denominated in United States Dollars. This is a move in the right direction, but I believe more can be done. We are all too familiar with UWI’s cries that dem nuh have no money, arguable but fine. It is one thing to be deficient in financial resources. Still, it is a whole different ball game not to be considerate enough of students to leverage their individual and collective status and connections to lobby public and private sectors to rally around our future medical professionals to ease the burden on individual homes.

At this point, I really hope for a miracle because simply put, mi nuh have it. All I have is the willpower and determination to pursue this degree against all odds, so my country, Jamaica, can benefit from my training to be among the best medical doctors in my homeland Jamaica. Too often, at every level of society, our mobility in education and even in the workplace depends on where we stand in the social strata, influenced highly by our spending power. We need to break the cycle! Medical school at UWI is becoming a game of “survival of the richest,” and it nuh cute.

I, as a final year medical student, hereby make a passionate and personal plea to anyone so inclined to help out. The cause is noble as it is really is a fight for the future of our country’s medical system. I am sure that the Guild would gladly accept your donation on our behalf in cash or kind. The universe will be thankful, as will we.

DISCLAIMER: The above article is a personal reflection of a student who requested anonymity. The publishing of this article should not be construed to mean that HyperAcademics Jamaica Limited shares the above views. We welcome all students’ writings to help fulfill our mandate to let the voice of students be heard.

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