Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
MUCH OF the preliminary work has already been completed for the construction of a children/adolescent hospital in western Jamaica, according to Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson.
Dr Ferguson, speaking during the launch of the inaugural Rainforest Seafood Festival at Sandals Montego Bay, Tuesday afternoon, appealed to the business community to buy into a public/private sector-partnership plan, which he said was critical to taking the country's health sector to the next level.
Rainforest, the largest seafood distributor in the Caribbean, he said, had already commenced its part in the process by agreeing to hand over 100 per cent of the proceeds from the Rainforest Seafood Festival to the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH).
The food and music festival, slated for Ash Wednesday, February 13, at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex in Montego Bay, aims to raise $5 million for the health facility, which caters to 500,000 residents annually.
Rainforest, owned and operated by Brian Jardim, is a member of the We Care for Cornwall team, led by Sandals Resorts International's Adam Stewart.
We Care has committed to donating $25 million to the facility in 2013 from fund-raising activities.
However, outside of CRH, more hands are needed on deck to provide a facility that would not only cater to children, but also adolescents, said Ferguson, even as he lauded the work being carried out.
"There is only one facility in the country that is equipped to take care of some of the challenging health issues that some of our children are faced with, and that is the Bustamante Hospital," he said, addressing an audience that included some of the biggest names in corporate affairs, Scotiabank, Digicel, Red Stripe, National Bakery, CB Chicken and Pepsi.
He noted there was a gap in finding proper care for adolescents.
"This new children's hospital will fill that gap," he said
Admitting that healthcare was a big challenge to the country, Dr Ferguson said whenever there was a crisis and a child had to be referred to Kingston, many have died in the process.
He said constructing a children's hospital in western Jamaica was another major goal of the government.
"And we have already completed much of the preliminary work. This is another area in which we are confident that assistance from private voluntary donors can be most effective and make a difference in the level of health care available in Jamaica."
The hospital, he pointed out, would carry a private wing and will be part of the government's health-tourism thrust.
Implementation work on the project should begin between late 2013 and early 2014. Pressed to disclose the cost of the project, Dr Ferguson said the proposal had not yet reached Cabinet.