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Diaspora Conference | Health minister seeks Diaspora support for children's medical facility

Published:Tuesday | July 25, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Dr Christopher Tufton (centre), minister of health, chats with Professor Neville Ying (left), chair and executive director of Jamaica Diaspora, and Earl Jarrett, chief executive officer of Jamaica National Group and event chairman, at the Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston on Monday.

Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton is lobbying Diaspora support for a new $5.9 billion (US$46 million) 220-bed medical facility to be built on the compound of the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, St. James, to provide specialist services for children and adolescents.

He has also urged Diaspora members to support the expansion of the Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston, to include a cardio-care facility aimed at increasing the number of surgeries administered to youngsters up to age 12, from 50 to 250 per annum.

The minister extended the invitation while addressing delegates attending the Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference's opening plenary session, focusing on healthcare delivery, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on Monday.

Tufton said development of the facility in Montego Bay is being supported by the Government of the People's Republic of China, which has signed off on the project in tandem with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.

He indicated that a Chinese delegation recently visited Jamaica to develop the project's technical details with representatives of the Health Ministry.

Tufton further advised that the Chinese government has also indicated that they will provide some of the centre's equipment.




The facility, he pointed out, is expected to "fill out the gaps" that exist in terms of healthcare delivery for the target age cohort, adding that "we are hoping to break ground for that by the end of the first quarter of next year."

The minister said it is anticipated that the Bustamante Hospital's infrastructure build-out to facilitate the cardio-care facility will be completed later this year, pointing out that this engagement is being done with the support of charity organisations, Chain of Hope and the Shaggy Foundation.

He said the Bustamante Hospital's administration has indicated that its expansion to accommodate an additional 150 beds would ideally position it to deal with the demand on its services, pointing out that "it's not just catering to locals; it does cater also to the region, and they do a very good job."

The minister said consequent on the Government's build-out and overhauling of the paediatric healthcare service, there is need for specialists to deliver the requisite services.

In this regard, Tufton encouraged persons with these specialist skills, who are interested in resettling in Jamaica and offering their services, to contact the ministry.

The biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference is being held from July 23 to 26 under the theme: 'Partnering for Growth'.