Caribbean countries will have safer, ecofriendly and disaster resilient hospitals. This will be achieved with the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO/WHO) Smart Hospitals initiative, which will support Caribbean countries in improving their health care facilities.
The project is spearheaded by a team of Caribbean experts and will be piloted at the Georgetown Hospital in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Pogson Medical Centre in St. Kitts and Nevis. It is designed to establish an integrated approach to building and retrofitting health care facilities to ensure that they are environmentally friendly and disaster resilient.
According to PAHO’s Regional Advisor in the Area on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief, Dr. Dana Van Alphen, “the project will allow for the development of a ‘Smart Health Care Facilities Annex’ to accompany national building standards and codes and the development of the Smart Hospital Toolkit to guide the implementation of climate change mitigation measures in existing and proposed facilities. It also seeks to enhance national capacity to deliver climate smart health care facilities by providing training workshops, advice through the Disaster Mitigation Advisory Group (DIMAG) and supporting policy strengthening.”
Benefits of having Smart Hospitals
Speaking on the benefits of the project for Caribbean people, Dr. Van Alphen noted that the initiative would see cost savings on health care and utility bills, reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improved air quality, enhanced physical access to hospitals, improved access to safe water and improved safety conditions.
She further noted that extensive research and site investigations have taken place at the Georgetown and Pogson Hospitals and these facilities have been assessed against a Smart Hospital Baseline Assessment Tool, designed specifically for this purpose.
This initiative follows and enhances the existing Safe Hospitals project, which advocates for hospitals to be built to ensure continued operation during disasters and that existing hospitals progressively improve their safety levels in this regard.