Health Minister Wants Help to Finance $6 Billion Hurricane Repair Bill


Minister of Health and Environment, Rudyard Spencer, has called on funding agencies and the private sector to help the Ministry finance its $6 billion bill for the rehabilitation of health facilities across the island, which were damaged during Hurricane Dean.
“This amount covers the cost for replacing equipment at health facilities in the four regions. The Government cannot foot this bill on its own and is interested in working with funding agencies such as ECHO (European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department) and the private sector to finance this rehabilitation programme,” the Minister stated on (Jan. 22) at the launch of a post hurricane rehabilitation project for the Bellevue Hospital on the hospital grounds.
He said that over the last 18 months, the Government has spent some $1.8 billion on new construction and rehabilitation of health facilities. The money he said covered the cost of replacing equipment in the four regions, while noting that 82 new pieces of equipment were also acquired. “That represents the largest purchase in Jamaica’s history for the health sector,” he pointed out.
In the meantime, Minister Spencer said that there was need for a more aggressive programme “that will make a major impact on improving the quality of service delivery at both the primary and secondary health care levels”.
“The upgrading, re-equipping and re-staffing at the primary health care level will reduce overcrowding at hospitals and make health care more accessible and affordable to Jamaicans at all levels,” he pointed out.
According to the Health Minister, achieving a first world health care system “lies in re-positioning primary health care as the foundation on which we will build a 21st Century health care sector”.
“When services are offered at the level of the community, we know that we have the best chance of reaching most of the people who are hard to reach – the poor, elderly and the physically and mentally challenged – as well as opening doors for access to health services,” the Minister stated.
The rehabilitation works at the Bellevue Hospital is being undertaken through a $34.3 million (350,000 Euro) grant from the European Union and includes extensive repairs to three wards and replacement of equipment damaged during Hurricane Dean.
It is part of a six-month ECHO project to reduce the health risks after Hurricane Dean on the most affected populations in Jamaica. The contractor for the project is Alfrasure Structures & Roofing Limited, while the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) will manage the project.
Activities started last year with vector control work to reduce post-disaster outbreaks of vector-borne diseases such as leptospirosis, dengue and malaria.

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