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Rowley: Couva Hospital coming on stream soon
If no suitable operator is found for the Couva Hospital by the end of this month, it will be incorporated into T&T’s national health care system as the country’s first paying health care institution, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley told members of the T&T Diaspora yesterday.
Addressing nationals on his last day in London following the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, Rowley said T&T was embarking on a new thrust in health tourism.
Rowley said the Couva Hospital will offer state-of-the art health care once it is opened and unlike other national health institutions - it will charge a fee to patients.
“We are trying to enter the area of health and health tourism. Suffice to say, I have given Parliament the assurance that we have until the end of this month to get Requests For Proposals for the Couva Hospital and if we do not get a suitable operator we will give that hospital into the national health care system,” Rowley said during the event, which was streamed live from the Office of the Prime Minister’s Facebook page.
The hospital, which was one of the People’s Partnership’s flagship projects, was promoted by the former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar as the avenue to boost health tourism in T&T.
Saying his Government was committed to boosting health tourism yesterday, Rowley said, “We are in the process of creating a new model of health care. In support of what we have now, we will also be offering cutting edge technology for the people of T&T and elsewhere to access the services at the Couva Hospital for a fee of course.”
He told the audience they too could give back to their homeland by providing services to the hospital.
Last Friday, Rowley invited India Prime Minister Narendra Modi to offer opportunities to health care professionals to contribute to training at the Couva Hospital by teaching traditional Indian medicine, which is over 3,000 years old. Modi pledged to offer assistance in the areas of information communication technology (ICT), energy and pharmaceuticals. Rowley also offered opportunities to India in the areas of tourism, health care and agriculture. He also requested aviation training for local helicopter pilots as well as direct air transport.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Oropouche MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said: “Our investment into health care was premised on using the health care sector for health tourism and as a serious revenue generating sector for foreign exchange. This is why we expanded the San Fernando Teaching Hospital and completed the Couva Hospital. What Dr Rowley speaks about is nothing new as we have been talking about this for three years now, while the hospital is overrun with carailli vine and there are snakes, scorpions and centipedes inside,” Moonilal said, adding they were getting information the SFTH and Couva Hospital were being stripped of equipment and furniture.
He also called on Rowley to say whether they are in discussions with the Canadian government to lease the Couva Hospital to the discredited SNC Lavalin, a Canadian firm embroiled in corruption, bid rigging and bribery allegations. The United National Congress had cut ties with SNC Lavalin in 2013 after the T&T Guardian exclusively broke the story involving the tainted company and its ties to the UNC in the proposed construction of the Penal hospital and rehabilitation centre.
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