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Soufriere Hospital to get new Physiotherapy Unit

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Contact: John Emmanuel

Tuesday, February 18, 2003 - Patients at the Soufriere Hospital will soon be able to benefit from a new physiotherapy unit set up at the medical facility via the assistance of the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF). Final preparations are being put in place for the official handing over later this month, of the over $150,000 unit, which was formally an old laboratory.

Community Liaison Officer with the Basic Needs Trust Fund, Mathias Burt says patients have also begun benefiting from the installation of several water heater systems, which in the past crippled the operations of the paediatric and seniors’ wards of the hospital. “The hospital administration is quite pleased with the work which has been undertaken by the Fund. We spent over $50,000 putting this unit in place and frankly we hope to spend more money in Soufriere in the coming months,” said Burt.

According to Burt, “health is one of the critical components of the programme together with water provision, education and skills training. Based on that heavy health agenda we carry out renovations and repairs to health centres and assist in providing clean water systems for health centres along with much needed equipment.”

The BNTF Liaison Officer says sadly one of the Fund’s principal backers, the Caribbean Development Bank, does not support primary health care initiatives and as a result the island’s main general hospital, Victoria cannot benefit. However he indicated that other health assistance packages are available via various loan facilities from the CDB. The BNTF has also employed a consultant and contractor to erect a pedestrian bridge at Zennon in Soufriere. That project is to be completed within the next two weeks.

Meantime, as the Fund prepares to begin a new series of programmes for the next five years commencing in the month of June 2003, a final draft document ‘A Poverty Reduction Action Plan’ has been drawn up. The plan is just one of the many mechanisms, designed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the BNTF at poverty alleviation.

“We are now putting together an operations manual that will allow the BNTF in the next five years to extend its tentacles all across the country to alleviate poverty and to assist people in empowering themselves,” Burt explained. Funding for the BNTF comes from the Government of St. Lucia and the regional lending agency the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The CDB provides grant-funds totalling 80% while the Government provides counterpart funds amounting to 20%.

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