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Address by The Hon. Kenny D. Anthony at the Official Signing Ceremony for the Financing Agreement for the New National Hospital

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Official Signing Ceremony

for the

Financing Agreement for the New National Hospital Project

Speaking Notes for Honourable Prime Minister

on Monday, March 6, 2006


 

Salutations


Ambassador Amos Tincani - Head of the EC Delegation; Ambassador Hugo Ruizcabrera - Cuban Ambassador; Ambassador Bernard Venzo - French Ambassador; Ambassador Kelvin Greene - British Ambassador; Carmen A Ponte - Venezuela Ambassador; Honourable Damian Greaves - Minister of Health, Human Services, Family Affairs and Gender Relations; Honourable Felix Finisterre - Minister of Communications Works and Transport and Public Utilities; Honourable Ferguson John - Minister of Physical Development, Environment & Housing, Permanent Secretaries; National Authorising; Officer; Director of the National Insurance Corporation; Chief Medical Officer; EU Technical Officers; Administrators of St. Judeís and Victoria Hospital; Government of Saint Lucia Technical Officers; Media establishments; Good Morning to you all.

 

The occasion which has brought us here today has been much anticipated. Indeed, I am particularly delighted that the Excellencies of the diplomatic corps could share this special occasion with us.


This occasion, as you know, is the signing of an EC$91.7 million or EUR 27.8 million Financing Agreement for the construction of a new general hospital which is but one facility of a major medical complex. Already, the other compound, the Psycjhiatic Hospital, is under construction, thanks to our great friends, the People's Republic of China. The construction of these hospitals will be living symbols of the Government of Saint Luciaís commitment to transform the landscape for the delivery of health services to our population and to our visitors.


Background

 

It has been a long, sometimes difficult journey since the Government of Saint Lucia opened the debate on the subject of the viability and prospects for sustainability and long term viability of the existing Victoria Hospital which is well in excess of one hundred years old. At least five 5 independent investigations were conducted on the prospects for the improvement of hospital services in St. Lucia. Throughout the entire process, the EU has stood steadfastly by our side supporting us through the various stages with the necessary funding and technical assistance. At least three of the five feasibility studies were funded through various EU financing instruments: These include:

 

  1. Tomlin Voss & Associates (TVA) of Barbados - Alternatives for Hospital Development

  2. Health Research for Action (HERA) Consultants of Belgium - Health Sector Reform

  3. TVA Secondary Report & Site Assessment for New Hospital

 

These studies concluded that Victoria Hospital could not possibly be transformed to meet our health demands into the foreseeable future without compromising ongoing treatment and care. The reports all agreed that the best option for the improvement of secondary care was to develop a brand new hospital on a new site.


Since then, we have been working diligently towards this objective. In January, 2004 Sir Frederick Snow and Partners Ltd of the UK and their local affiliates in Newel Lewis Broadbridge and Associates (NLBA) and Halcrow St. Lucia LTD won the contract to be our Design Consultants. With their assistance we were able, by April, 2004 to conclude a scope investigation and schedule of accommodation for the new hospital.

 

By, October, 2005 we had produced a preliminary design and costing for the proposed new general. In this regard, we chose to be consultative by soliciting the participation and views of our doctors, nurses, health practitioners, fire and emergency personnel and various communities in arriving at the final design. It was the obviously the longer and more arduous approach to the design task but experience has taught us that there are no short cuts in planning for development without consultation, especially long term development of a project with such tremendous implications. We were exceedingly pleased when the final design presented in July last year was overwhelmingly accepted by the health sector community and the general public.

 

For us, the initiative to establish a new national hospital at this stage of our development is critically important.


The project will create the physical environment for enabling the success of our health reform programme. Already, even before the first brick has been laid, the project is starting to have a positive spin-off effect on worker morale through the excitement, anticipation and hope it has generated amongst our health practitioners.

 

An important reform initiative which comes immediately to mind is the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) system of national insurance. This health insurance initiative which will be managed by the National Insurance Corporation, the NIC, is designed to ensure equitable access to local and overseas care services by all St. Lucians. The UHC will require a comprehensive financial strategy to ensure the future sustainability of all health infrastructure and service offerings. UHC is in keeping with the principles of equity, efficiency, effectiveness and solidarity articulated within our Health Reform Proposal of 2000. The success of the UHC System will be better assured through the existence of a national hospital which is able to administer a broad package of services at high quality and so uphold public confidence in the national health services. To this end, I must point out that we have once again been fortunate to receive EU support under STABEX towards the drafting of a Universal Health Care Bill. Other aspects of health service delivery are also to be drafted into legislation as the policy agenda unfolds.

Another important undertaking which we have pursued also with EU support has been the preparation of a Five Year National Health Strategic Plan which will cover the period 2006-2011. This Strategic Plan is in draft stages and is expected to be published by the end of March, 2006.


Project Objectives and Expected Results

 

The long term objective of the project is to improve the overall quality and effectiveness of delivery of health care services so as to improve the health status of the islandís population. Its purpose is to improve the quality, access and range of acute care services available in Saint Lucia by establishing a new hospital to complement improved primary care services.


The projectís most important result is the establishment of a new, 153-bed, functional general hospital, fully integrated with the enhanced primary care services with a floor area of approximately 14,000 square metres allowing for logical operational circulation patterns and optimal clinical management.
 

However, specific allocations have also been made for the advancement of the institutional reforms, quality assurance and the enabling environment for the successful operation of the new hospital. I speak specifically of the provisions within the Financing Agreement for:

  1. Instituting an autonomous governance structure for Victoria Hospital which would allow for greater efficiency and effectiveness of management ahead of its transfer to the new hospital facility.

  2. Improving the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Health for policy, regulation, through reinforcement and integration of corporate planning functions.

 

Another important anticipated result is that the New National Hospital upon its commissioning in 2009 will be quality assured and internationally accredited. This process began in 2005, with the commissioning of the Canadian Council of Health Services Accreditation to support the national quality initiative designed to have the health service accredited within four years. National structures to institutionalize quality are also being supported through the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards.

 

Project Costs

 

The total project costs is EC$91.7 million of which EC$66.5 million is provided by the European Union and EC$25.2 million by the Government of Saint Lucia.


The EUís contribution will go towards the following:

 

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Construction

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Professional Supervision Services

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Capacity building of the Ministry of Health for Regulation, Licensing and Accreditation

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A New Hospital Governance

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Audit and Evaluation.

 

The Government of Saint Luciaís contribution has gone into the land acquisition and the design of an access road to the site. In April, the Government contribution will continue with the start-up of construction of the access road.

 

Other government counterpart commitments to be made to the project include:

 

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Site preparatory work

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The provision of utilities to the site

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Biomedical equipment

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Furniture and fittings

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IT and Office Equipment and;

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Ongoing Human Resource Development Support.


Conclusion

 

In conclusion, I take the opportunity to express the thanks and appreciation of the people of Saint Lucia to the European Union for their unstinting support over the years on this project of such developmental significance to us. This hospital will be an enduring monument of the support and friendship of the European union, and surely, the wisdom of the Government and people of St. Lucia.

 

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