Five health facilities to be SMART by 2020

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DPI, Guyana, Friday, April 6, 2018

The Diamond Diagnostic Centre, Leonora Diagnostic and Treatment Centre, Mabaruma and Lethem Regional Hospitals and the Paramakatoi Health Centre have been identified by the Ministry of Public Health to be upgraded to SMART hospital status.

The ‘SMART Hospital’ concept refers to a health facility which is both safe and green. Hospitals and other health facilities embracing this concept must provide standard and efficient health care before, during, and even immediately after the event of any natural or man-made disaster.

Public Health Officials including Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence [third from left] pose with slogans of the SMART Hospital facility shortly after the media conference, where they announced the five facilities to be retrofitted by 2020.

SMART Hospitals are meant to be environmentally friendly with structural and operational safety built into the facility’s state of operations. These centres seek to offer services during wet and dry seasons as experienced by Caribbean countries.

Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, during a brief press conference, said the SMART Hospital initiative does not seek to create new facilities but rather create sustainable units to withstand the effects of climate change. “We are not building any new facilities but rather we are upgrading some existing hospitals under the terms of agreement (contract). The SMART Hospital initiative is designed to provide the health sector with increased protection against disasters to which the region is prone and further provide protective cover against the vagaries of climate change,” the minister explained.

These five facilities are included in a total of fifty facilities in seven Caribbean countries earmarked by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) to be retrofitted into SMART centres. The funding will cover Guyana, Belize, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Grenada, Dominica and Jamaica. DFID has set aside a grand sum of £38M to have the upgrades done to the facilities.

British High Commissioner to Guyana, His Excellency, Greg Quinn noted that the upgrades being catered to includestrengthening roads and structures, installing hurricane shelters, improving drainage, improving access and improving power supply and safety.”

More specifically in Guyana, preliminary figures indicate that after funding would have been disaggregated, in US dollars, the five facilities will benefit from a total of US$4.175M in upgrades to attain SMART status.

According to PAHO/WHO Representative to Guyana, Dr. William Adu-Krow the sum is not final but just an estimated figure which may address issues identified at health facilities. “The cost that we initially envisaged, the government is not waiting for DFID to come in and help retrofit, some is ongoing so by time the final figure is estimated some aspects of work would have been done.”

It is projected that these upgrades under the SMART initiative project will be completed by May-June 2020. The Ministry of Public Health has agreed with PAHO/WHO and the UK government that climate change is an abrasive threat to health care, hence the need to move in this direction.


By: Delicia Haynes