Health Minister, Dr. Kenneth Darroux has attempted to clear the air as it pertains to the current situation with the much-talked-about Marigot Hospital.
Earlier this week, dozens of Marigot residents, joined by members of the Dominica Nurses Association (DNA) and other supporters, gathered near the police station in Marigot on Monday to protest against the current lack of proper health care services in that community. Protesters came out again on Friday, joined by their parliamentary representative, Lennox Linton, to continuing making their case.
Residents say they are frustrated by the delay in the construction of a much-needed hospital at Marigot which has been compounded by the lack of a proper alternative facility for the provision of health services.
The hospital was shut down in 2016 due to mold and fungus infestation of the building which housed the facility. Prior to that, it was closed because of a severe termite infection. Its services were moved to the Wesley Health Centre.
Promises of the construction of a new Marigot Hospital have not materialized despite an announcement by the DLP administration that the Government of Mexico has committed US$5-million for the construction of the hospital.
Darroux called a press conference on Friday to address the matter and described the situation in Marigot as “very unfortunate”.
“To be honest and in all fairness, I mean, you can understand how the population in that part of the country, how they are feeling and while I said I am not trying to make any excuse or trying to encourage anything, were you in their shoes, you would understand that after this long period of time, that their anxiety level will be high,” the minister said.
According to Darroux, a lot of what is going on as it pertains to the construction of the new hospital, “is really out of our hands.”
He said after Tropical Storm Erika, the Mexicans approached the government and indicated that they were prepared to give a grant of US$5 Million.
“We decided we would use it towards the construction of the Marigot Hospital,” he explained. “At this point as the minister, I was very excited because I felt that under my tenure that we would see the construction of the Marigot Hospital and at least I would walk out of this politics thing, having at least accomplished or dispelled the myth that’s being going on as it pertains to that part of the country.”
He said there are a number of things that his ministry had to do.
“Every other week some new document is sent to us to be signed. We sign it, hoping that everything is ok…,” Dr. Darroux revealed. “You are looking at a very frustrated minister as it pertains to that particular project …and I’am being honest, I really cannot find better ways to say it.”
The medical doctor-turned politician disclosed that at last week’s Cabinet discussion he told his colleagues that he believes they have reached the point where some serious decisions have to be made.
“Were it up to me I would tell the people thank you a long time; thanks for the offer and move on.” he stated but pointed out that there are other things to consider “such as the issue of foreign diplomacy…”
Darroux said that cabinet is deeply contemplating the way forward for the people of the Marigot Health District and thanked them for their patience and understanding
The United Nations Office Project Services (UNOPS) has been contracted to prepare the designs for the Marigot Hospital and to manage the project.