The Government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for the provision of technical assistance to the Ministry of Health valued at US$564,297.
This will assist the Government’s plans to construct the Western Regional Children’s Hospital. The four-month consultancy will be implemented at a cost of US$146,663.
It will also help in boosting the infrastructure and medical equipment of five hospitals, namely, Spanish Town, May Pen, St. Ann’s Bay Regional, Mandeville Regional and the Kingston Public. This consultancy will be implemented over a six-month period at a fee of US$417,634.
The MOU was signed by Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Sancia Bennett Templer; and Head of UNOPS Operations in Central America, Colombia and the Caribbean, Ingar Falck Olsen, at Jamaica House in Kingston, on October 31.
Dr. Tufton said both projects fall in line with the Ministry’s overarching goal of developing a comprehensive 10-year Strategic Development Plan for the health sector as part of the integrated health-service-delivery framework.
He pointed out that the partnership for the construction of the Western Regional Children’s Hospital will include preparation of the project document, project charter for the construction of the hospital and reviewing technical documents – preliminary designs/drawings and medical equipment list.
Dr. Tufton noted that these will ensure optimal operation of the new hospital, given the current epidemiological profile and the projected growing needs of the population to be served.
“The analysis of the medical equipment list to be provided by the Government of China will ensure that there is no duplication and that all planned health services receive enough reliable equipment to bring quality support to the targeted population,” he said.
The Minister added that ground will be broken for the new 220-bed hospital next year.
He said that upgrading of the hospitals will see Spanish Town Hospital moving from Type B to Type A, May Pen Hospital from Type C to Type B, St. Ann’s Bay Regional and Mandeville Regional Hospitals from Type B to Type A hospitals.
Dr, Tufton noted that for the Kingston Public Hospital, the study will assess the current infrastructure, organisation and services of the hospital and assess the feasibility of the renovation, expansion and the reorganisation of the hospital to enhance the quality of services and efficiency of the hospital.
He said that while the country’s health infrastructure faces many challenges and budgetary constraints, the Government is committed to universal access to health and universal healthcare coverage.
“We are moving ahead to fill gaps, and despite challenges within the sector, the Ministry of Health remains committed to improving our infrastructure, which is critical for effective healthcare delivery. We are committed to improving the physical facilities that make care accessible, inclusive of laboratories, and other support facilities, pharmaceuticals, health information system and the appropriate human resources,” he said.
In the meantime, the Minister pointed out that the Government has spent just under $800 million to improve infrastructure in some of the island’s hospitals. He cited recent renovations at the Noel Holmes Hospital and the St. Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital.
For his part, Mr. Olsen said UNOPS works in approximately 100 middle- and high-income countries.
“Usually, Governments have asked us to get engaged in more health-related areas and, therefore, during the last five to 10 years, there’s been a real shift in our focus towards health infrastructure, equipment, procurement, maintenance, pharmaceuticals and construction and rehabilitation of hospitals,” he said.