KINGSTON — The Government of Spain, through its Agency for International Development Co-operation (AECID), has donated some $11.2 million worth of medical equipment and furniture to the Spanish Town Hospital, in St. Catherine.
The donation will go to the hospital’s King of Spain Wing, and include over 250 pieces of equipment, supplies and furniture for the Physiotherapy Department and the Surgical Ward.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, on July 13, 2011, Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, expressed gratitude to the Spanish Government for its continued assistance in the development of health services in Jamaica. “The people of Jamaica truly appreciate this gesture and stand to benefit tremendously from this donation,” he said.
He noted that the “kind gesture” is in keeping with the Ministry’s current focus of increasing the number of functional equipment in its public health facilities.
Mr. Spencer said as part of this thrust, the Government has signed a Biomedical Agreement with the Cuban Government, which will see Cuban experts coming to Jamaica to work along with local specialists to repair equipment that has been sitting unused in health facilities for some time.
“We expect that this will make a significant impact on our ability to provide diagnostic and other services,” the Minister said.
Mr. Spencer said he is proud of Jamaica’s longstanding relationship with the government of Spain, noting that the country has, in the past, made several significant investments in Jamaica and at the Spanish Town Hospital.
He informed that the rehabilitation of the King of Spain Wing was completed with the support of the government of Spain in February 2009, and that soon, the hospital would be hosting the official opening of its latest project, the Queen Sofia of Spain Women’s Centre.
The centre will cater to the welfare of women, providing colopscopy consultations, counselling and maternal health services. Minister Spencer said the facility will greatly contribute to the country’s efforts in achieving its Millennium Development Goals in maternal mortality rate, which is currently set at 36 per 100,000 by 2015.
Mr. Spencer further noted that the input of Jamaica’s bilateral partners is critical in assisting the country to achieve its development goals. He argued that while the government has overall responsibility for providing accessible and affordable care to the people of Jamaica, it is also mindful of the fact that it requires partnership and assistance to reach its ultimate health goals.
He argued that Jamaica’s prospects for development and the achievement of the Vision 2030 National Development goals are hinged on its ability to forge successful partnerships, especially in the area of health care delivery.
Vision 2030 Jamaica is the country’s first long-term national development plan, which aims at enabling Jamaica to achieve developed country status by 2030. It is based on a comprehensive vision: “Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business."
Spanish Ambassador to Jamaica, Her Excellency Celsa Nuno, said her government, through AECID, is committed to providing assistance through programmes designed to enhance the institutional strengthening of national health systems.
“These programmes ultimately aim at supporting public health providers, so that they have the ability to ensure sustainable and fair coverage of the health needs of the population,” she said.
Ambassador Nuno argued that good health was a basic human right and a vital step towards poverty reduction, adding that the development of a society can be judged by the degree of health of its population, as well as the degree to which access to health care is equitable across the social spectrum.
The Spanish Town Hospital has one of the highest bed occupancy rates in Jamaica. In 2008, the Spanish Government donated approximately $36 million towards the rehabilitation of the hospital’s King of Spain Wing after it had suffered severe damage from Hurricane Dean the previous year.
The building was officially inaugurated in February 2009 by his Majesty King Juan Carlos I.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter