The actual construction of the much-talked about, China-funded new national hospital will begin at the end of October, Health Minister, Dr. Kenneth Darroux has said.
He was addressing the Thirtieth Meeting of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) /Pooled Procurement Services (PPS) Policy Board and the Third Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Health of Member States at the Fort Young Hotel on Wednesday.
“Actual construction is due to begin, is set go begin rather, at the end of this month, a new US$40 million gift from our friends the Peoples Republic of China,” he stated.
However, Darroux told participants of the event that new hospitals will not “cut it” unless there is universal health coverage.
“These gains that we made in terms of the new infrastructure, the new specialized services, the new cancer center have to be accessible to each and every body, from the rural community – from Joe Farmer in the rural communities to Joe Minister in the capital of each of the countries,” he said.
He said health care should not be treated as a “fancy restaurant” or “designer stuff” accessible to only to “the rich and famous.”
“It should be accessible to one, all and sundry,” he noted.
The contract for the hospital was signed between the government and Hunan Construction Engineering Group Corporation in December 2015 and ground was broken in August, 2016. It is one of four pillar projects contained in a memorandum of understanding signed between Dominica and People’s Republic of China in 2004.
Talks of the new hospital have been floating around for about six years now.
Back in 2010 then Health Minister, Julius Timothy, announced that the ground breaking ceremony for the hospital in the Roseau North constituency was “coming soon.”
That same year Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, said Warner should be considered as a possible location for the hospital.
Two years later, in 2012 Timothy said the existing Princess Margaret Hospital would soon be revamped and the country will have a “relatively new hospital early next year” (2013).
In 2013, Prime Minister Skerrit said the new hospital was among projects to be undertaken that year through gratuitous aid and concessionary financing from the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
At that time, Skerrit mentioned that they were “unfolding the designs” of the hospital.
In January 2015, Health Minister Kenneth Darroux said new information, new points of view and ideas about the hospital had surfaced and a site for the facility was yet to be determined.
He said a decision on the new site would be determined very soon and “within the next few weeks” the nation would be informed.
It was subsequently revealed that the facility will be constructed in Goodwill.
In May 2015, Skerrit said groundbreaking would be held in July 2015.
In November 2015, Skerrit said everything is now settled between Dominica and China and the groundbreaking will now be held in the first quarter of 2016.
In December 2015 it was revealed that two technical teams from the People’s Republic of China are presently in Dominica and one of them will be reviewing plans for the hospital.
In May, Darroux said the project had “essentially started.”