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Primary healthcare to be boosted in St John and St Mark


by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada

Polyclinic to be environmentally friendly facility that can withstand a natural disaster Will be flagship facility in revitalised primary healthcare programme Facility to deliver quality integrated primary healthcare services to residents of St John, St Mark, and St Patrick Primary healthcare accessibility is to be enhanced for residents within the parishes of St John and St Mark. Government has formally signed a contract with the Qingdao Fuhaiyang Construction Group Caribbean Ltd responsible for the construction of state-of-the-art polyclinic. The Chinese company was the successful bidder out of 11 contractors vying for the project.

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The contract signing and sod turning ceremony was held on Friday, 26 October in the presence of Luis Maia, Head of Development Cooperation Delegation of the European Union to Barbados the Eastern Caribbean States, OECS and Caricom/Cariforum, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, Minister for Health Nickolas Steele, Parliamentary Representative for St John, Alvin Dabreo and Parliamentary Representative for St Mark, Dr Clarice Modeste Curwen.

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Lorna Charles, architect at the Ministry of Infrastructure Development & Implementation, boasted that the project is an environmentally friendly facility that can withstand a natural disaster. “We have looked into the building being a smart building and have identified areas to increase the functionality of the building whereby it can function after a natural disaster such as hurricanes, and it is also designed to meet green building standards.”

Maia said this project would be the flagship facility in the revitalised primary healthcare programme on the island. “The reform of the health sector is an enormous task with complex interconnections with aspects of the financing of governance, legislation, and the ever-visible service delivery and resilience of the sector in the face of climate change. It will be necessary for our view for the Grenadian government to leverage its internal resources and skillfully coordinate with internal and external partners to achieve this goal.”

Last year the European Union disbursed the first tranche of grant funding of €1.368 million (EC$4.4 million) to Grenada, under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) to aid in the reform of Grenada’s healthcare system and the development of national primary healthcare policy. The overall grant amount allocated is €4.8 million (EC$15.4 million), with €3.4 million (EC$11million) earmarked for the health sector as budget support, and the remainder going as technical support to the government and non-state actors.

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Dr Mitchell admitted there are many flaws in the current health system, some of which government is directly responsible for. He indicated that in order for the healthcare system to improve on the island, all stakeholders must have shared responsibility in its development. He spoke about a project that will come on stream to help deal with the sewage issue in the healthcare system.

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The fact that we have just got $125 million through the Green Climate Fund to take care of water services and sewage problems that will lessen the potential health problems in the country, so it will affect those of you working in the healthcare system and the recent receipt of US$30 million from the International Development Association (IDA) is another plus. We have been given US$65 million, but we got an advance of US$30 million, that is sitting in the Eastern Caribbean Development Bank to start being spent after the budget next month on other aspects which include healthcare.”

With non-communicable diseases accounting for between 65% to 85% of deaths in Grenada, Minister for Health Nickolas Steele said the national primary healthcare policy is aimed at reversing these statistics through a multifaceted approach to preventative healthcare. “It is equitable, sustainable health services that respond to the need of the population, this is what we strive for. The St John/St Mark Polyclinic serves as a flagship project under this agreement, and on completion, this facility is expected to deliver quality integrated primary healthcare services to the residents of St John, St Mark and St Patrick.”

The health minister has reassured residents that on completion of the project they will be able to access affordable healthcare services in the area of dentistry, nutrition, pharmacy, mental health, counselling, and other health promotion services. The $7.4 million project was made possible through the technical and financial assistance from the European Union. The site chosen for the construction of the 3 storey polyclinic is on Upper Depradine Street in Gouyave, and it is expected to be completed in 16 months..

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