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Story Highlights

  • Rehabilitation works on the Annotto Bay Hospital in St. Mary have been completed at a cost of more than $90 million.
  • Refurbishing work was done on the female medical, paediatric, and maternity wards; Accident and Emergency unit among other units
  • The newly refurbished institution was re-dedicated during a ceremony on Friday (October 11).

Rehabilitation works on the Annotto Bay Hospital in St. Mary have been completed at a cost of more than $90 million.

The project, spearheaded by the Ministry of Health, was undertaken to repair infrastructural damage sustained by the 146 year-old institution during Hurricane Sandy’s passage in October 2012.

Refurbishing work  was done  on the female medical, paediatric, and maternity wards; Accident and Emergency unit, doctors’ and nurses’ quarters, and porters’ lodge; kitchen and  laundry room, and the roadway was repaired. These were complemented by the provision of a new ambulance.

Funding was provided by a wide cross section of public and private sector stakeholders. Chief among these were: the National Health Fund (NHF); Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund; Japanese Embassy in Jamaica; and the RJR Communications Group. A significant number of community organizations and persons also contributed to the cause.

Rehabilitation of the Annotto Bay Hospital is consistent with the government’s 2013/14 strategic focus on human capital development, with emphasis on the enhancement and strengthening of health care at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels.

The newly refurbished institution was re-dedicated during a ceremony on Friday (October 11).

Guest speaker, Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, said he was “deeply moved” by the “tremendous outpouring” of support for the hospital, following the disaster. The responses, he added, are indicative that “we can move the health sector forward with a shared vision.”

The Minister underscored Annotto Bay Hospital’s importance to the island’s north east region, noting that it provides direct health care for nearly 200,000 persons in St. Mary, and sections of the adjoining parishes of St. Ann, and Portland.

Dr. Ferguson informed that in 2010, the institution recorded some 7,118 admissions; 25,125 visits to the Accident and Emergency Unit; and a total of 48,546 patients received medical attention.

“Those figures indicate…how essential the services of this hospital are to persons in (that) section of the island. It also brings to bear, how important it was for us to focus on upgrading the facility to better serve its users,” he said.

The Minister said “it is no secret” that the Government is not able to provide all the financing necessary to further modernize Jamaica’s health sector. In this regard, he argued, partnerships “are the way to go.”

“The private sector, international agencies, and non-governmental organizations are critical stakeholders to move the country towards a path of development. Health care and development are two sides of the same coin; without one the other cannot be achieved. This is the type of inclusive governance that we need in Jamaica to move health care and other important sectors forward,” Dr. Ferguson argued.

He thanked all stakeholders who contributed to the rehabilitation effort, and  lauded the  hospital’s staff and patients who “patiently endured the on-going work.”

Meanwhile,  Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Yasuo Takase, noted that the Embassy’s input of approximately $11 million (US$123,000) was facilitated through Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project. The contribution was used to assist in refurbishing the female ward.

Ambassador Takese pointed out that “human security” is a priority focus for the Japanese government in executing international assistance to developing countries, like Jamaica.

“The basic concept of the human security (focus) is to provide protection and empowerment to the vulnerable group of people in the society, with special emphasis on gender issues. It is in line with (this) policy that the Embassy of Japan assisted with the refurbishing of the female ward at the Annotto Bay Hospital. I am very pleased to see the wonderful job (undertaken on the ward), which will cater to the medical needs of women in the communities,” he said.

Other speakers included: Custos Rotulorum emeritus for St. Mary, Hon. Alric ‘Bobby’ Pottinger, who represented Hon. Jeffrey McKitty; Port Maria’s Mayor, Councillor Levan Freeman; the hospital’s Senior Medical Officer, Dr. Ray Fraser; North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA) Chairman, Leon Gordon; RJR Communications Group Managing Director, Gary Allen; and Member of Parliament for South East St. Mary, where the hospital is located, Dr. Winston Green.