St Ann's Bay Health Centre better prepared for natural disasters
Minister of Health and Wellness, Christopher Tufton cuts the ribbon to the retrofittedhealth facility. Looking on, from far left, are Ian Stein, PAHO/WHO Representative forJamaica, Bermuda and the Caymans Islands; Judith Slater, British High Commissionerto Jamaica; and Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, chief medical officer. (Photo: AkeraDavis)

OCHO RIOS, St Ann— The St Ann's Bay Health Centre is now much better equipped to withstand natural disasters after a $140-million renovation under the Smart Health Care Facilities in the Caribbean Project. Funding was provided through UKAID and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

This is the ninth of 12 health facilities renovated under 'Smart' since 2020.

“I want to say thanks, on behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica, to the United Kingdom as well as PAHO for this programme to advance our health systems. Good things are happening in public health and this was another good thing as we continue to build resilience to protect our people at the community level,” said Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton during Thursday's official handover of the facility.

Upgrades included construction of ramps; renovation of water tanks; and installation of ceiling lights and fans, a rain-harvesting system, a generator which can provide power up to two weeks in the event of an outage, and a water tank with the capacity to hold 18,000 litres.

“I'm really proud that the UK has funded these upgrades, and the UK is absolutely committed to help fund facilities in the Caribbean against future storms and increased risk from climate change. This region is hit by natural disasters quite frequently, and in the event of an emergency the health department is critical to treating the sick,” said British High Commissioner to Jamaica Judith Slater.

She added that there was more to come.

“As part of the Smart initiative we are improving 50 facilities across 70 countries to make them more resilient in any catastrophic event,” said the diplomat.

Under World Health Organization green certification standards, nine health facilities in Jamaica are below the required level to withstand natural disasters. With the work recently done there, the St Ann's Bay Health Centre — which was at 29 per cent — is now at 70 per cent resilience when assessed using WHO green certification requirements.

PAHO/WHO representative for Jamaica, Bermuda and Cayman Islands Ian Stein said $320 million had already been spent in getting a number of the country's facilities up to required standards.

“The project started in Jamaica in 2016. It is scheduled to end this year and 12 health facilities will be safer and greener,” said Stein.

“The St Ann's Bay Health Centre was retrofitted to improve resistance across a range of hazards including strong winds, flood and earthquakes. We applaud those who have worked tirelessly to ensure the project was completed despite the challenges of COIVD-19. PAHO and WHO remain committed to the success of this project and will continue the initiative with the Ministry of Health and Wellness,” he added.

The Santa Cruz Health Centre is among those to be upgraded in the coming months.

BY AKERA DAVIS Observer writer

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