The annual general meeting of the World Paediatric Project (WPP) was held in St Vincent and the Grenadines on Sunday, the first time it has been convened outside of the United States.
In an interview last Friday at the Young Island Resort, Dr Brian Clare, the chair of the WPPâs Board of Directors, said it was important for the board to see how funds raised by the WPP are put to work.
â…So, we decided to bring them down and show them all the attributes that St Vincent has to offer and what we do with the children. And I think it is a very important mission to see that, because most of the funds that are raised to fund those teams coming down, are in the United States,â the chair said.
Susan Rickman, CEO of the WPP, explained that it was also the first time that all three of WPPâs boards were meeting together, including the WPPâs executive board, the international board and the local (St Vincent) board.
â…We have just recently developed an international advisory council. So, we have international people who have the passion for the children down here, that are also working globally for us to get awareness to what we are doing. So, itâs the first time we have brought all three of these boards together, meeting where else but St Vincent,â said Rickman.
She explained that by having the meeting in St Vincent, WPP has kick-started a transformational 2023 plan, in which the main goal is for every child to have access to paediatric, advanced diagnosis and surgical care. The CEO said St Vincent is ground zero for the region in terms of what the WPP plans to do for children.
Rickman said all that is left to be done is to raise the finances, as the WPP already has support from the local and regional governments and there is a brand new operating theatre at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital to accept children from the region.
She said she knows the 2023 plan will work.
â…We know that we can say that. No place south of the United States can say every child has access to advanced health care,â she said excitedly.
Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne, one of the local board members, said he was excited to have the board meet in SVG.
â…We are all excited to have the board meet here. We are excited about continued contribution to St Vincent and the Grenadines. Our children have benefited tremendously. A number of them are alive because of [the WPP] and itâs just my great pleasure to welcome you and say thank you,â Sir Frederick said.
The three boards of the WPP held their general meeting on Sunday afternoon, after visiting 60 children at the Kingstown Clinic, who were getting medical assistance from Dr Jeff Lukishâs team.
Dr Lukish, who is an associate professor of surgery and pediatric surgery at Johnâs Hopkins Medical Centre in the US, is on his fifth visit to St Vincent.
The project is in its 16th year of operation.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said on Monday that the WPP has provided health care valued at EC$137.4 million to Caribbean children and young people up to the age of 21. Of this, EC$65.4 million is in relation to Vincentians, with the remaining figure spent on persons from regional countries like Guyana, Suriname and Barbados.
He said statistics so far show that since inception, the WPP has performed 9,726 evaluations and 1,139 surgical procedures, with Vincentians receiving over two-thirds of the evaluations, some 6,640. Vincentians have also received over 80 per cent of the surgical procedures (853) and additionally, 346 children went to the USA for advanced surgical treatment, 169 of whom are Vincentians.
Stressing the significance and importance of the WPP, Dr Gonsalves said that SVG has been declared as the centre of excellence for paediatric care in the Eastern Caribbean.(LC/CB)