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PM: It’s my prized project

$150m children’s hospital under way as sod turns...
Published: 
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar touches the face of Seon Joseph of Princess Elizabeth Special School, during the sod-turning ceremony of the Couva Children Hospital yesterday morning. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday described a US$150 million children’s hospital to be constructed in Couva as the most important project under her tenure. As she turned the sod for construction of the medical facility, Persad-Bissessar said it was the start of the realisation of a dream she held close to her heart.

 

“We are not about erecting white elephants willy nilly. We are not about creating edifices of political egos, monuments of pretentious aggrandisement at the expense of ignoring the plight of the people,” she said. “We are carefully planning the development of Trinidad and Tobago that encompasses the entire country, north, south, east and west, urban and rural.”

 

The Prime Minister said the project would be funded by the Government of China and was one of several government to government projects taking place during her tenure. She said another prized project being launched under her People’s Partnership Government, the Scarborough Hospital, would be opened in April.

 

“Finally, after so many years. We are busy filling the needs of the people and not the pockets of a privileged few. That is what people’s power is about,” she said. Persad-Bissessar said the Couva Children’s Hospital was part of Government’s planned Medical Healthcare City to be completed by 2015.

 

The hospital, to be constructed at the top of a hill a short distance away from the newly opened Couva interchange, will include a burns care unit, nurse and medical training facilities, 80 children’s beds and 150 adult beds. She said the hospital, which is expected to be completed by 2014, would relieve the strain from the overburdened San Fernando General Hospital.

 

Persad-Bissessar said the location of the facility showed Government’s commitment to taking development to all areas of T&T. “Gone are the days of the concentration of development in Port-of-Spain and its environs,” she said. “No one should be discriminated against or disadvantaged because of race, because of gender, because of creed, or because of geographic location.”

 

Persad-Bissessar said the hospital, when completed, would reduce the need for parents to travel abroad to seek medical care for their ailing children. She said Caribbean Airlines had adopted a policy of “must ride” status for these children and their guardians to get them to their international destination for medical treatment.

 

Udecott Chairman Jerlean John said the agency would be mobilising within a month to begin work on the hospital which will be completed with two-and-a-half years. South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) Chairman Dr Lackram Bodoe said the facility would service some 300,000 residents within the RHA’s cachement area.