UK to invest over $830M to disaster proof 5 health care facilities

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British High Commissioner Greg Quinn

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development under the Caribbean Smart Health Care Facilities Project is expected to invest approximately 837 million dollars to outfit five health care facilities in Guyana, so as to enable them to withstand the effects of natural and man-made disasters.

The project will be implemented by the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation’s (PAHO/WHO) Department of Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief in collaboration with the Public Health Ministry.

PAHO/WHO Country representative, Dr William Adu-Krow, said on Friday that some 71 facilities were assessed and only 5 were selected.

He noted that the project commenced in 2016 and will be completed in May of 2020.

PAHO/WHO representative Dr William Adu-Krow

Additionally, Dr Adu-Krow explained that a seminar was already held to educate contractors and design firms on the procurement procedure they are expected to abide with regards to the project implementation.

Thus far, four companies have been shortlisted and according the PAHO/WHO Country representative, they are in the process of evaluating the bids.

“A safe hospital is one whose services remains accessible and functions at maximum capacity in the same infrastructure during and following the impact of a major emergency event. This employs structural stability, the on-going availability of basic services and organization within the hospital. In green hospitals air quality improves, water and energy costs decline and peoples working conditions improve through enhance physical access to hospitals, improved access to safe water and improved safety conditions,” he said.

Meanwhile, Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence asserted that health care facilities are smart when the structural and operational safeties are linked with green interventions.

She explained that they are not building new facilities rather they are upgrading the existing ones.

Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence

It is anticipated, once completed, that the health facilities will see a tremendous reduction in operation costs and Lawrence noted that those savings would be plugged back into the maintenance of the facilities.

She also noted that under the programme, the Leonora Cottage Hospital, the Diamond Diagnostic Centre, Mabaruma and Lethem Regional Hospitals along with the Paramakatoi Health Centre will be retrofitted as a part of the smart plan.

“When evaluated using the Health Safety Index all institutions received a classification of C indicating that urgent intervention measures were needed. The hospitals current safety levels are inadequate to protect the lives of patients and staff during and after a disaster. Since none of them obtained the minimum score to be qualified as a green facility then all of them must be retrofitted.”

Additionally, British High Commissioner Greg Quinn, stated that the project is designed to make the health facilities across the Caribbean more efficient and more resilient to natural disasters.

“Over the next few years the UK will support efforts across the region to build and improve 50 facilities in 7 countries. The work we will do is not sexy but it’s vital. It includes mundane work such as strengthening roofs, installing hurricane shelters, improving drainage, improving access and improving power supply and   safety.  At the same time as improving resilience we will also take time to improve power efficiency,” he said.

The proposed cost for the retrofitting of the 5 institutions equates to approximately US$4.1M. However, it was noted that it is too early to determine a concrete figure considering a number of factors. (Lakhram Bhagirat)

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