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NDP unveils design for hospital in East St George

NDP unveils design for hospital in East St George

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In support of its promise to usher in improved health services for Vincentians, the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has unveiled a design for a proposed state-of-the-art hospital in East St George.

The modern facility, which is projected to cost EC$75 million, will offer helicopter service to persons needing to be airlifted from across the country, including the Grenadines, in cases of emergency.{{more}}

Speaking at a rally of the NDP at the Calliaqua playing field last Saturday evening, Daniel Cummings, the NDP’s spokesperson on health, gave the pillars on which his party proposes to tranform the health sector.

Cummings, who is also the representative for West Kingstown, spoke on (i) the streamlining of the organization and management of the health sector (ii) financing (iii) universal access to health care, (iv) strengthening community health systems and strengthening public and private partnership.

“This is not an airy-fairy project. This is a project that has been thought out,” Cummings said, while party supporters fixed their eyes on a large screen onto which an image of the proposed health facility was projected.

“That is not a joke. There are people from the Southern Grenadines, when they have emergency, can fly straight to the hospital. The people from Fancy, as in that [Rock] Gutter tragedy, can be air lifted straight to the hospital,” Cummings told a large gathering.

Cummings explained that when there’s an accident or emergency, persons will be dealt with expeditiously, rather than having to sit and wait.

In addition to adequate parking and easy access to the hospital, Cummings revealed that there will be an area for children, where there will be playing facilities and a cafeteria for parents.

“This is not a joke. This is making the facility user friendly. This is what the NDP wants to get for you… This is how this is planned out. This is real. We know what we are talking about and we are ready to do it.

“When the NDP tells you that we are ready. I want you to understand we are not only ready to vote them out, we are not only ready to punish the wrongdoers, but we are ready to make the positive change in this country for the benefit for all the people of this country,” he said.

Cummings said since 2001, the health report card for St Vincent and the Grenadines has not been good and many of the hard won gains of the past are now in jeopardy.

“The naked truth is that the health services of this country have been placed in intensive care over the past 14 years and is now battling for survival. The health system is badly fractured in fundamental areas and is crying out for visionary, caring, and competent leadership,” he told listeners.

Stating that the country’s health sector is in “serious crisis”, Cummings said health policies lack innovation and vision and the health delivery system is floundering dangerously.

He said health facilities, including the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH), have been left to fall into disrepair and starved of the basic equipment and life-saving drugs and supplies.

“They are now more of a liability than an asset. In the Ministry of Health, as in other areas of government, meritocracy has been replaced by favouritism and reward for performance supplanted by party loyalty.

“Transforming the health sector of SVG requires a judicious blend of proactive policies, cutting edge management, rationalization of services and fostering of a culture of accountability within the system…,” Cummings said.

President and Leader of the NDP Arnhim Eustace, at that same rally, said if one billion could be spent to build the Argyle International Airport (AIA), then $75 million could be spent on the hospital.

However, other than saying the facility will be located in East St George, no specifics were given as to the intended location of the hospital.

“We hope in that new hospital, we would attract the best doctors and medical professionals. It would be properly equipped with all the equipment necessary; the best possible doctors and nurses. And we will ensure that quality service is given to all of our people,” Eustace noted.

He noted that already, his party has formulated a plan for financing the new hospital through engagement with a number of multi-lateral agencies, particularly the European Union, from where they expect to receive the bulk of the funding for the hospital.

“The European Union has a rich history. They assisted in MCMH. They have a rich history of assisting in the development of the health care sector in the Caribbean. And we have already identified special programmes, through a mixture of grants and soft loans that will help finance this significant project.

“We are going to work through agencies such as the PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) to provide technical and other assistance in setting up the hospital. We will also engage friendly governments in the Caribbean and Latin America,” Eustace said.

He further added that the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government, in their 14 years in office, has never seen it fit to put its energies into health care.

“…We are telling you tonight that the NDP will do that,” Eustace said, adding that it is not often in politics that there is a rally discussing health care.

“We are concerned about this. We have seen the difficulties people face… ULP wants you to believe that what our country is today reflects the best our country can do and better can’t be done…What the ULP is saying is that we should always settle for less.

“I refuse to accept that. That will never be acceptable to the incoming NDP government,” Eustace said.(KW)

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