UWI signs up for Bioprist medical city
A partnership is taking shape between the University of the West Indies and Bioprist that will see a section of the medical tourism resort complex the company is developing in Montego Bay becoming the home for the western Jamaica campus of the UWI...
A partnership is taking shape between the University of the West Indies and Bioprist that will see a section of the medical tourism resort complex the company is developing in Montego Bay becoming the home for the western Jamaica campus of the UWI medical faculty.
Bioprist Institute of Medical Sciences, BIMS, incorporated in 2016 as an independent subsidiary of the Bioprist Group, is building a US$17-million ($2.6-billion) facility that is part of a wider $48-billion project being undertaken by Dr Guna Muppuri, the principal owner of Bioprist.
Muppuri says over the past five years, he has been working on the plans and seeking funding in the form of equity and debt to get the nearshore health tourism and medical training facility off the ground.
With loan financing from National Commercial Bank and some funding secured through VM Wealth Management, work has started on the buildout of an interim location for the medical school.
Muppuri previously disclosed at a Jampro forum at the start of May that he has already raised over $1.1 billion for the medical resort project.
The immediate plans include the repurposing of a building at Ironshore in Montego Bay that was initially earmarked as the corporate headquarters of the Bioprist Group. The medical city project is to be built out on other lands acquired nearby.
“Work is going on at a rapid pace and we are now waiting on phase two of the funding, which is another US$8 million, or approximately $1.2 billion...” said Muppuri at the signing of a memorandum of understanding with UWI regarding the medical campus.
Bioprist has applied to the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority for the medical resort to the accredited as a special economic zone.
Already delayed from an original 2021 completion timeline, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, Muppuri is targeting the roll-out of the medical training facility for early next year.
On Tuesday, BIMS and the Grand Ridge Med City, as the overall development will be called, received the imprimatur and support of the UWI. Professor Dale Webber, principal of UWI, Mona, says at this stage their deal covers setting up a team to flesh out the details of the partnership and incorporate the needs of the university into the project planning and implementation.
The Bioprist-UWI deal appears to have been brokered, and is being steered, by state promotions and investment agency Jampro, whose president, Diane Edwards, hosted the MOU signing at the agency’s head office in Kingston. Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Audley Shaw and State Minister Norman Dunn joined the event via Zoom, while Dr Horace Chang, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of National Security and Member of Parliament for North West St James, where the project is located, also stated his support for the initiative.
The BIMS programme will begin with the training of doctors, but later expand to include dentistry, nursing and chiropractic health. A 300-bed teaching and research hospital forms part of the concept that, Muppuri points out, fits naturally into the higher end of the spectrum of the knowledge process outsourcing industry.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating, negative effect on the human resources, especially healthcare professionals, and the functional infrastructure of healthcare all over the world, including here in Jamaica,” said the businessman.
“Creating a healthcare technology frontier that attracts global brands and talents that are resilient to external shocks lies at the heart of the business model,” he said at the signing.