Health facilities in St. Catherine are to be expanded and rehabilitated, says Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton.
“If there was neglect in the past, we’re changing the sails. This parish requires high levels of health infrastructure… the population require it,” he states.
The Minister was speaking during an Open House & Exhibition ceremony for the rehabilitation of Public Health Facilities in St. Catherine, held at the Church of the Open Bible, in Twickenham, Park recently.
Dr. Tufton says the Old Harbour, St. Jago Park and Greater Portmore Health Centres located in the parish will be expanded under the Ministry’s Health Support and Strengthening Programme.
The Spanish Town Hospital will also see a new main building constructed to expand its range of services, as well as upgrades to some of its existing facilities.
“To ignore establishing this kind of specialised facility would be to ignore the needs of the people who have invested their lives, homes and families in these [areas] and this government is not going to do that. It is a vision for all of Jamaica,” he says.
Describing the expansion as “a need,” Dr. Tufton points out that the parish has the “highest level of [civilian movements], residential and soon to be, commercial infrastructure developments, within the last decade.”
The programme is funded by the Government, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the European Union (EU).
“The Government has so far spent US$3.9 million for some of the pre-work and over the next three to five years, the government is committed to spending US$87 million,” Minister Tufton said.
He further pointed out that in addition to the Government’s spending, the IDB provided a loan of US$50 million, and the EU contributed a grant of €10 million.
May Pen East and West Health Centres as well as Chapelton and Mocho Health Centres in Clarendon will also benefit from rehabilitation works.
St. Ann’s Bay Hospital and Health Centre along with Ocho Rios and Brown’s Town Health Centres, in St. Ann, are also slated for upgrades under the programme.
Meanwhile, Minister Tufton says the National Health Information System, which is being networked to over 130 health centres across the island, is another critical component under the programme.
By installing the networking system, the Ministry aims to modernise the transmission of information and storage data, to support more efficient delivery of health care.
The Minister notes that Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) is leading the networking works and that the Ministry will “go to market soon” for a software provider.
“That means the infrastructure is coming, but we also want reductions and efficiencies in transaction times and transaction costs,” he says.
“But, we’re not stopping there, because we’re doing an infrastructure overhaul…meaning the diagnostic equipment. We’re exploring a series of methods of securing more consistent services through lease arrangements, and the project as it [is] now, would [be able to equip] our facilities with equipment that are necessary,” he notes.
Meanwhile, EU Ambassador to Jamaica, Her Excellency Marianne Van Steen, says the Union remains committed to assisting the country’s health sector because of their mutual interest in health.
“The EU has done what it could [to] assist the country to face the challenges of the pandemic. We’re still facing it [and] I’m happy that the EU has been facilitating the access to vaccines, personal protective equipment when it was most needed [and] ventilators, among others,” she points out.
For his part, IDB’s Country Representative (Acting), Lorenzo Escondeur, notes that the provision of financial and technical resources for the programme is a priority of the IDB’s Vision 2025, “which focuses on promoting social progress in a way that fosters access to quality public services like health and improves social protection systems.”
Infrastructure works will consider energy and water efficiency, as well as natural disaster resiliency, according to the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and Department for International Development (DFID) standards.
Slip-resistant surfaces in patient areas will be included in all infrastructure works as well as improved accessibility for disabled persons.
Jhuss Khool – Chip Glock (Audio Visual)