On Thursday, Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, and Chinese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Niu Qingbao, signed an Economic and Technical Cooperation agreement for the provision of more than CNY300 million (J$5.8 billion) in funding for the development of the facility.
This follows the exchange of letters between the countries as an initial step in the process some 10 months ago.
Speaking at the signing ceremony held at the Chinese Embassy in St. Andrew, Dr. Tufton said the agreement demonstrates a commitment by both countries to complete the project through partnership.
He said the Government sees the project as an investment in the country’s future.
“Investing in the health of our children is critical to their healthy development and to sustainable growth,” he noted.
The facility will be the first public hospital to be constructed in the island since the May Pen Hospital was built in the 1970s.
The 220-bed facility will complement the Bustamante Children’s Hospital in Kingston, providing increased access to specialised paediatric and adolescent care.
“Families will also be able to access specialised care for their homes and communities,” Dr. Tufton pointed out.
He said the hospital will enable Jamaica to meet targets set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly as it relates to the health status of children.
This, he said, is essential as the country strives towards “achieving a healthy and stable population as outlined in Jamaica’s Vision 2030 National Development Plan”.
The Health Minister expressed gratitude to the people and Government of China for the partnership, which, he noted, “is crucial in bolstering the health sector’s ability to administer public health efficiently”.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Qingbao said the signing signifies the solidarity between the countries.
“We have a keen relationship with Jamaica… China is keen to work with Jamaica so that the people have better access to education and medical facilities,” he said.
The new specialist paediatric hospital will be sited on the grounds of the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, and will have numerous specialist features and will cater to the 0-18age group.
The main construction content of Jamaica's second children's hospital, which will offer specialised care to children and adolescents, will include an outpatient building, ward building, apartment for nurses, and a mortuary. In addition, it will have, among other things, a pharmacy, emergency department, laboratory, operation room and department of surgery.
Once completed, the facility, a brainchild of former Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, is expected to satisfy the needs of those persons who are now forced to travel to Kingston to seek specialist treatment for their children.
Health Minister Dr. Chris Tufton said "The Western Children's Hospital will seek to achieve the vision of developing an international centre of excellence which will cater to the needs of our children. This facility will integrate the values of 'family-centred care' into the design and operations, a first of its kind in Jamaica."
Qingbao noted that the agreement for the hospital's construction is a tangible demonstration of the excellent relations between the countries.
The Chinese will be responsible for the design of the project, supplying necessary construction machinery, equipment, and material, as well the requisite experts to organise construction, installation and testing of hospital equipment.
- Countries: Jamaica