PM breaks ground for US$43-m children's hospital in MoBay

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, October 24, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James —Not even a heavy afternoon downpour could further delay the long-awaited ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the US$43-million Western Children and Adolescents Hospital on the grounds of the Cornwall Regional Hospital, yesterday.

The facility is a gift from the Government of the People's Republic of China and will have 220 beds. It will be the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean, offering specialist medical care for youngsters up to age 18 years.

Funding for the project is being provided under an Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement, which was signed on Thursday, October 18 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, New Kingston, by portfolio minister Kamina Johnson Smith, on behalf of the Jamaican Government; and China's Ambassador to Jamaica Tian Qi.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who broke ground for the facility, said he was happy with design of the hospital, arguing that the way in which some buildings are constructed in Jamaica poses huge problems which impact health.

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton, who welcomed the construction of the facility, said it will be the first hospital to be built in the country in two decades.

“In terms of this regional health authority geographic space it is 500,000 people who will be served in this region, comprising St James, Westmoreland, Trelawny and Hanover,“ said Dr Tufton.

He added: “The Western Children and Adolescents Hospital is a significant indication of the commitment of our honourable prime minister and the Administration to advance the improvement of public health infrastructure.”

“Today is a good day for the people of Jamaica and the relationship between Jamaica and the people of China,” Dr Tufton said.

Ambassador Qi, at the same time, noted that the construction of the facility, which is expected to be completed in two years, is a testament of the friendship between Kingston and Beijing.

“For the past 47 years we have been working together as true friend and real partners,” said the Chinese ambassador.

Mayor of Montego Bay Councillor Homer Davis also commended the Chinese Government for its generous contribution of the well- needed paediatric and adolescents hospital in western Jamaica.

Meanwhile, Holness, who argued that “credit must be given where credit is due”, praised former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller for initiating the partnership with the Chinese Government for the construction of the public health care facility.

“The concept of having the paediatric adolescents hospital didn't start with her (Simpson Miller), obviously something that was always conceptualised, but she brought it a step closer when she visited China [in 2013] and placed it on the agenda as a project of cooperation between Jamaica and the people of China. The Government of China agreed and that brought the project one step closer to fruition. So I want to acknowledge her great effort and input in reaching to this point,” Holness remarked under heavy rain beating down on the tent under which the ground-breaking ceremony was held.

The heavy rains also forced the ground-breaking to be done under the tent.


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