New Bequia health clinic, a dream come true – Belmar
March 19, 2013

New Bequia health clinic, a dream come true – Belmar

The residents of the Bequia will now be serviced by a new clinic at Port Elizabeth.The facility was officially handed over yesterday, March 18, to the residents of that northern Grenadine island.{{more}}

The facility was constructed at a cost of EC$761,863 and was financed by the Caribbean Development Bank through the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF).

Prior to 1991, outpatient services at Port Elizabeth were provided from a single room at the Bequia Hospital and as the island’s population grew, so too did the demand for these services.

The journey to have a new clinic at Port Elizabeth began with a consultation with the residents who were of the view that something needed to be done with the existing structure, said Kenny Douglas, BNTF Project Manager.

This was because the initial facility had outlived its usefulness, he explained.

A meeting with Medical Officer of Health Dr Roger Duncan led to the discussion of possibly building a new health facility, Douglas said.

Herman Belmar, Deputy Director of Grenadines Affairs, said that the opening of the facility is a dream that had come true.

“I believe that this entire community is rising up to the reality of this dream,” Belmar said.

“I have been through this many times – I heard many promises made and none fulfilled, until today.

“We have had those hopes dashed and we have seen attempts made to address this facility crumble, but today, we have a brand new facility that can make us all proud,” he continued.

He said that he grew up around the original facility and watched first-hand how the facility had outgrown the community.

“I had a dream and waking up from that dream that one day, the patients and nurses would not be sitting in the hot sun waiting to see the doctor to give attendance,” he said.

But Yawande Yorke of the Caribbean Development Bank explained that although the planning stages of the project took a while, it was necessary to get the input of all the relevant stakeholders, which included the residents of Bequia.

But now that the building has been completed, the sustainability of the facility depends on not just the building itself, but on the programmes and the people who will be operating the facility.

“We must look to the purpose and maintain the objective of the facility, which includes the nursing staff, administrator and the high quality health service to the people,” he said.

Yorke further commended the government for its commitment to quality health care of its citizens, saying that this mandate was in keeping with that of the CDB as well.

Area representative Dr Godwin Friday said that he too wished that the facility delivers what it promised to.

“Sometimes we have a building or a new project which can transcend the structure itself – it is my fervent wish that the facility will inspire the staff who deliver health care to do their best,” Friday said.

“Ultimately what matters is the delivery of health care to the people,” he continued.

Minister of Health Clayton Burgin, in his address, referred to the facility as a jewel in the national health crown.

He added that the ultimate goal of the facility is to enhance the health services to the people of Bequia.

“It is an honour to celebrate the opening of this facility and I urge you to reflect on the quality care this facility will provide,” Burgin said.

He added that the primary health coverage of the nation was generally strong, although it lacks certain diagnostic services.

This has therefore encouraged the government, he said, to commit to modernizing the health sector.

He also noted further plans to refurbish the Bequia hospital and outlined a number of other projects, which included the construction of doctor’s quarters on Canouan and a full staff quarters on Union Island, which he said will provide accommodation for a doctor, nurses and a pharmacist, to ensure a wide range of services, which can be maintained on that island.

These projects are to be done under the 10th EDF project, which Burgin explained was a joint effort between the European Union and the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, in his address, said that the government spends roughly 13 to 14 per cent of the estimated budget each year on health and another 20 per cent on education.

But there are problems which the government is faced with, when it comes to financing capital projects, such as those done or which are in the pipeline to be done in the field of health.

He said that for capital projects, there was usually money that the government can put to finance the projects, but often financing is done through grants or soft loans.

The CDB is one such agency where the government obtains such loans; however, money coming through organizations such as BNTF means that the government, in some instances, is still required to put up between 20 and 25 per cent of the capital required for the project.

The other problem, he said, was in the tendering process, which takes time.

So, the original amount budgeted for the project, as time elapses, increases, and the government often has to come up with a significant amount of money to finance the project.

He said the government had been advised to construct the Bequia hospital in two phases, but did not, as the nature of the Bequia hospital was that it needed to be done in one phase.

“So, I will have to bite the bullet and do it,” he said.

The Prime Minister further stated that he was not too worried and he should be able to find the finances to refurbish that health facility in Bequia. (DD)