Jamaica receives SMART healthcare facilities
Health Minister Christopher Tufton last Thursday officially received, on behalf of the Government, nine of 12 health centres retrofitted under the SMART Health Care Facilities in the Caribbean Project, funded by the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development Fund and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
Some $320 million is being spent to retrofit health centres in St Ann’s Bay, Albert Town, Darliston, Gayle, Norman Gardens, Windward Road, Yallahs, Sydenham, and Cumberland Road health centres being upgraded to the SMART status, which refers to safe and green facilities.
The SMART project extends to the wider Caribbean, with some 55 health facilities in seven countries set to benefit.
St Ann’s Bay Health Centre received the bulk of the funding, with $140 million spent on the facility over the 11-month period to bring it from a rating of 29 per cent to over the 70 per cent mark stipulated by the World Health Organization (WHO).
One of the benefits is that the centre is now able to operate for up to two weeks without external utility support.
“I am pleased with it,” Tufton said. The health minister expressed gratitude for the contribution that made the project possible.
“We have heard and we appreciate absolutely the contribution that has made this programme possible by the United Kingdom Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, supported by PAHO, to Jamaica,” he said.
He added: “Overall, it’s about $40-odd million for the Caribbean region. It’s a substantial contribution, and I believe we really must show absolute appreciation for the development of the programme, for the relevance of the programme, and, clearly, for the commitment that has been given by our donors and our partners to ensuring that it is successful. I want to place on record our thanks, on behalf of the Government and the people of Jamaica, for this very important programme.”
Tufton said the project should give Jamaicans an opportunity to rethink how the country’s health infrastructure is built, especially coming on the heels of COVID-19, which he described as “the greatest public health threat to mankind in over 100 years”.
Ian Stein, PAHO and WHO representative for Jamaica, Bermuda and the Caribbean, and Judith Slater, British high commissioner to Jamaica, also gave remarks, both acknowledging the importance of the project.