April 16, 2010
EC$35 million health programme for SVG

A EC$35 million health programme will be executed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines beginning January 2011.{{more}}

The plan, rolled out by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves on Monday, April 12, 2010, also includes the relocation of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH).

This, the prime minister said, signals a revolution in health.

The multi-million dollar project will be funded by the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).

An elated Gonsalves, whose administration has faced strong criticism during the past nine years for problems in the heath service – problems the Government claims it inherited – disclosed the effort that will be made with this initiative is similar to that which brought marked success in the education sector.

“The same kind of focus that we have put on education, you are going to see what we are doing on health ramped up,” said Gonsalves,

The Prime Minister, addressing the nation at a press conference at the main Administrative Building, Kingstown, announced that 90 per cent of the funds allocated under the 10th EDF will be used on health.

Essentially, this plan put forward by the Prime Minister seeks to decentralize the administration of quality health care.

The prime minister said some of the funds will be used to refurbish the MCMH, while other resources under the initiative will be used to build two poly-clinics costing EC$3.45 million each: one at Marriaqua, and the other at Buccament to cater for persons (including those at the new hotel at Buccament) on the Leeward side of the mainland. Funds will also be used to do substantial repairs to the Mental Hospital at Glen.

Other interventions include: The design and implementation of a National Nutrition Health and Disease survey (estimated to cost EC$900,000); the construction of four doctors’ quarters: one each at Calliaqua, Chateaubelair, Lowmans Windward and Sandy Bay; the construction of a staff hostel on Union Island with four identical suites over two floors.

With regard to the upgrade of the MCMH, Gonsalves noted repairs will be done on the roof of the Operating Theatre. He added a new roof will be constructed over the female surgical ward, as well as a new floor. The present kitchen will be relocated into a similarly sized space within the existing hospital. Construction will also be done over the open court yard to provide adequate space to process and store medical records.

“Before you relocate it, you have to upgrade…People would say well why spend money upgrading it, because it’s going to take a while to do all the plans and everything for the relocation and you would relocate in phases,” said Gonsalves.

“This is a lot of work, but what we are doing here is to hold things in order; spruce up the hospital, while we are awaiting the report in relation to the relocation and how we are going to move forward with the relocation,” said Gonsalves.

Meanwhile, Gonsalves reiterated that the Modern Medical Complex at Georgetown will open its doors later this year. A polyclinic at Stubbs is also set to come on stream soon.

Unlike proposals put forward in a Manifesto, Gonsalves claims his plan is the real deal, since it states precisely how the job will be executed.