Wed | Jun 19, 2019

Health facilities to get $30b upgrade

Published:Wednesday | May 8, 2019 | 12:26 AM

Just over $30 billion will be spent over the next five years to upgrade some of the country’s ageing health facilities.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has, however, acknowledged that the capital injection of between $27.2 million and $31.2 million is “critical extraordinary expenditure to play catch-up”.

“[It is] to bring us back up to speed and to make us more relevant to the health challenges that we face as a country,” he explained.

Tufton, who was speaking in the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday, announced that through the Government of Jamaica, a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and a gift from the Chinese government, all the funding is in place to undertake the upgrade work.

Through the IDB loan, he said $3.1 billion will be spent to improve facilities at the Spanish Town Hospital in St Catherine, and $463 million on the St Ann’s Bay Hospital in St Ann. Both hospitals are to be upgraded to Type A facilities.

The May Pen Hospital is to be renovated at a cost of $283 million and then upgraded to a Type B facility.

A total of $2.3 billion will be spent on the Kingston Public Hospital improvement project, while $166 million will be pumped into the cardiac wing of the Bustamante Hospital for Children.

“These investments will enable improvements in the quality and quantity of healthcare services to be provided, integrated service delivery for the seamless movement of patients between the different levels of care,” the health minister insisted.

BILLIONS MORE FOR HOSPITALS

Tufton announced that the symbolic ground-breaking for the $5.7-billion Western Children and Adolescent Hospital – a gift from the Chinese government – is scheduled for next month.

In addition, he said the Government has earmarked $3.5 billion for the renovation of the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James.

According to Tufton, the upgrading of health facilities forms part of a comprehensive 10-year strategic plan for the health sector.

“The objective of the strategic plan is to provide an overarching strategic direction to the ministry, which is aligned with Jamaica’s commitment to universal access to health and universal healthcare coverage,” he explained.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com