Mon | Apr 22, 2019

Western children’s hospital closer to reality

Published:Friday | February 15, 2019 | 12:14 AM

The Ministry of Health is to complete designs and acquire the requisite regulatory approvals for the construction of the long-awaited 220-bed Western Children Adolescent Hospital in Montego Bay, St James, during the 2019-20 financial year as the ministry is to allocate some $235 million for the project.

The capital outlay also includes the complete site-preparation work, the acquisition of lands, the facilitating of the setting up of offices and site accommodations for the Chinese contractor, and commencement of foundations and structural works.

It forms part of the $803.2-billion budget projected to be spent by the Government to finance the affairs of the country in the new fiscal year, from which the Ministry of Health was allotted nearly $72 billion for capital and recurrent expenditures.

The Governments of Jamaica and the People’s Republic of China will be funding the project, the first of its kind in the Caribbean.

Last year, Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton signed a memorandum of understanding for technical assistance between the Ministry of Health and the United Nations Office for Project Services, which was to assist with specialist care for children.

“Having a dedicated paediatric accident and emergency service in our hospitals would be good as it protects our children from overexposure to the general population of trauma cases. Many parents prefer this, and when they need the service, they bypass other hospitals to take their child to the Bustamante Hospital for Children,” he said last year while speaking of the trauma effect on children in adult hospitals.

“It is an issue we have discussed. However, included in our upgraded plans will be more dedicated areas for paediatric A&E (accidents and emergency). The proposed Western Children’s Hospital will be an obvious addition to support what Bustamante does in Kingston on the western side of the country,” Tufton had noted.

An additional $158 million has been identified for emergency medical services for disaster preparedness for the 2019-2020 financial year, an increase of seven per cent over the expenditure for fiscal year 2017-2018.

This programme is designed to support disaster management, which is concerned with establishing and maintaining a comprehensive system of planning, coordination, and general preparedness to provide relief in the event of disasters, whether natural or man-made.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com