Kingston, Jamaica, January 18, 2024 (PAHO) – In a significant milestone for public health in Jamaica, the Santa Cruz Health Centre was officially handed over to the Ministry of Health and Wellness today after being designated a “smart facility.” This achievement follows extensive upgrading and retrofitting work that has transformed the health centre into a state-of-the-art facility.
The upgraded health centre now boasts the capability to respond effectively to crises while maintaining core functions during disasters and public health threats. It exemplifies the ongoing efforts to fortify the country's health system, making both its infrastructure and operations resistant to hazards and shocks.
The work at the facility encompassed both structural and non-structural improvements, with a focus on promoting sustainability. On the structural side, notable additions included a new reinforced concrete (RC) roof covering the walkway between buildings 2 and 3, as well as a new RC walkway and lightweight timber roof connecting all buildings. Non-structural enhancements involved the installation of accordion hurricane shutters on all windows, the incorporation of two 1000-gallon potable water storage tanks with a booster pump, and the implementation of various safety measures. These safety measures included a new fire alarm and public address (PA) system, fire extinguishers, signage, and fire hose reels.
Simultaneously, efforts were made to make the facility more environmentally friendly. This included the installation of a rainwater harvesting system and improved stormwater drainage as part of associated smart retrofit works, the utilization of LED lighting, and the integration of a 15kW Photovoltaic system.
In his remarks, Mr. Ian Stein, PAHO/WHO Representative for Jamaica, Bermuda, and the Cayman Islands, emphasized the critical nature of designating health facilities as "smart" in developing resilience within the health system. He stated, "Attaining our common objective of transforming the country's healthcare system and achieving universal health requires strong collaborations and strategic investments to establish a healthcare system capable of effectively navigating challenges and safeguarding the well-being of the population in the face of public health threats."
Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under Secretary of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, expressed his delight with the facility, noting, “the blueprint and toolkit developed for this project provide a helpful platform for risk reduction within the health sector going forward. We applaud Jamaica’s efforts so far in securing significant additional funding for upgrading more sites and being the first in the region to embed the new standards in their building codes.”
For his part, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health and Wellness, explained that the Smart Healthcare Facilities Project is a clear example of investment in people and infrastructure. Furthermore, he noted that “the collaboration with the UK and our implementing partner PAHO is a win for public health in Jamaica and a step in the right direction. Infrastructural resilience remains critical even as we face the threat of climate issues, emerging diseases and the continued dangers associated with NCDs.”
Hampton School students showcase their musical talents during the handover ceremony.
The extensive improvements made at the Santa Cruz Health Centre and eleven other facilities throughout the island align with the disaster risk reduction priorities of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) in the Americas and Jamaica's Climate Change Policy Framework. These upgrades are poised to serve as a blueprint for constructing and updating similar healthcare facilities across the nation, fostering a robust and resilient healthcare network.
The Smart Health Care Facilities Project, responsible for this transformative initiative, is funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) of the UK Government (formerly Department for International Development (DFID). The project was implemented by PAHO in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Jamaica.