President Dr Irfaan Ali on Sunday joined officials for the sod-turning ceremony of a specialised €149 million Paediatric and Maternal Hospital that will be constructed at Goedverwagting, East Coast Demerara.
The facility, which will be financed by the United Kingdom’s export credit agency – UK Export Finance (UKEF), will be built and equipped in two-years’ time by Austria-based Vamed Engineering. The company, which is partially-owned by the Austrian Government, is a global provider for hospitals and other facilities in the healthcare sector.
The low-rise Paediatric and Maternal Hospital will have 256 beds and will be a referral centre for women and children. It will specialise in maternal, neonatal, and paediatric care with a huge imaging suite for services such as CT scans and MRIs, a modern laboratory, and surgical suites.
Delivering the feature address on Sunday, President Ali stated that this hospital is not a standalone development but is specialised in critical care for two of Guyana’s most important groups – children and at-risk mothers.
“This facility is a specialised facility. It is not that the other health facilities would not have these services. But this will be a specialised hospital for these facilities alone because women and children are critical components of the development of our country,” he stated.
According to President Ali, the hospital is a demonstration of the relations established between the two nations. As such, he said Guyana intends to strengthen these ties with the European country in order to tap into its vast technology capabilities in other sectors.
This, the President stated, will be important as Guyana seeks to adopt world-class standards for its infrastructure in order to position the country for regional traffic in the medical field.
“Whatever, we’re developing is for regional prosperity. So, our cardiac centre, our centre to deal with cancer, our centre to deal with research and development are positioned with standards and infrastructure that will make it a want to go to destination in terms of regional traffic,” the Guyanese leader posited.
New era in healthcare
Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony outlined that this project is reflective of the Ali-led Administration’s commitment to fulfilling its promise of improving healthcare delivery in Guyana to international standards.
“Today, we are at another milestone in the development of public health in Guyana. The turning of the sod… would usher in a new era of public health investment in Guyana… it would be the [single] largest public health investment in the entire history of Guyana,” he noted.
Dr Anthony explained that even with massive investments and upgrades, the Georgetown Public Hospital – the country’s only referral hospital – is still limited in its capacity for certain services such as specialised paediatric care.
“We need to develop a facility that is going to be level five, that’s the highest level, and offer sub-specialty care to our children if they need it. And also, we know from time to time there would be at-risk mothers and therefore, we also need to cater for these at-risk mothers,” he stated.
According to the Health Minister, the services that would be offered at this facility will not only be far-advanced but services that were never offered in Guyana before. He explained that the primary goal of expanding the healthcare services here is to make sure that Guyana reduces its morbidity rate, have less diseases and is able to treat diseases properly.
“That’s the ultimate objective. So, the investments that we’re making here is really people-centric investments to make sure that our people benefit from the highest quality of healthcare, world-class healthcare, and they will be able to access it right here in Guyana, free of cost so that you don’t have to travel abroad… and I think that is extremely important,” the Minister stated.
Nevertheless, Dr Anthony stressed that this project would be a catalyst in changing the health landscape of the country and is the beginning of a wave of projects in the local health sector that will bring about total transformation.
In fact, he teased that in the next couple of weeks, many other similar projects will be rolled out across the country.
The Specialised Paediatric and Maternal Hospital was birthed from a Memorandum of Understanding between Guyana and Austria. The contract was signed just last month with Vamed for a Design, Finance, Build (DFB) model.
Austrian Trade Commissioner for Guyana and the Caribbean, Andreas Schmid during Sunday’s ceremony, reassured that Vamed is experienced as a market leader in turn-key hospitals across the world. He expressed hope that this facility will be the first step in long-lasting bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
“It is a direct result of the fundamental need to attend to the growing population and “mother and child care”, a vision of his Excellency, President Ali. This hospital is also an excellent example of a successful Government-to-Government project which we are delighted to explore also in other areas of bilateral cooperation,” he stated.
The specialised hospital will be equipped with high-quality equipment sourced from the United Kingdom.