Mandeville on cusp of health services boost
Minister of Health Chris Tufton (Photo: Chris Lewinson/BUZZ)

MANDEVILLE, Manchester Health services here are expected to be boosted in the coming months as work is fast advancing on transforming Mandeville Comprehensive Health Centre into a smart facility that Dr Christopher Tufton says will have "immense utility value".

"We are building out a climate and disaster resilient facility using rainwater harvesting, generators from solar power, using air flow for comfort as opposed to air conditioning, ensuring that we recycle where possible, and ensuring that it is comfortable, and that these facilities can withstand things like hurricanes," Tufton, the health and wellness minister, said during a tour of the more than $200-million project with representatives of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the British High Commission on July 29, 2022.

He lauded PAHO for guiding and coordinating the project.

"This facility is three months in the works. A lot of progress has been made. I think it should be done within the next five to six months and it looks like it is on time and on budget," he said.

PAHO Director Dr Carissa Etienne said 14 health facilities are slated to benefit from smart retrofitting in Jamaica.

"We did it because, with every hurricane, particularly the health centres and hospitals were either destroyed and could not be utilised because of structural damage. We started [in 2015], at that time we called it the safe hospital project and then as the years went on we realised that we needed also to respond to the climate and to ensure that the footprints in the health-care facilities were limited," she explained.

She added that 50 health-care facilities, including hospitals, across seven Caribbean countries are benefiting from the smart retrofitting project.

"We have proof because, with hurricanes, in many of the countries, the smart hospitals have stood up and were available for use. When you have a disaster you need to be able to access those facilities," she said.

"… We have seen that there is a lot of interest in this smarting of facilities, so UNICEF is looking at the smarting of schools. We do a lot of capacity-building and training. We are using the concept to take it to Central America and when new facilities are being constructed in the countries, we also bring the guidelines," Dr Etienne said.

She expressed gratitude to the United Kingdom, European Union, and the Canadian Government for contributing to the project.

British High Commissioner to Jamaica Judith Slater said funding of the project is part of the UK's support to Jamaica.

"I am really pleased to have been able to come here and see the work that is progressing under your guidance; it is very heartening to see how well you have progressed since May… This is the second of these facilities that I have been able to visit. This is part of the UK's £85-million commitment to Jamaica for climate-resilient infrastructure and public assets," she said.

Kasey Williams

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