Address by The Hon. Kenny D. Anthony at the Official Signing Ceremony for the Financing Agreement for the New National Hospital
Official Signing Ceremony
Financing Agreement for the New National Hospital Project
Speaking Notes for Honourable Prime Minister
on Monday, March 6, 2006
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 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:
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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