Georgetown, Guyana, April 24, 2021 (PAHO) – As part of the Smart Health Care Facilities in the Caribbean Project, the Diamond Diagnostic Centre was officially handed over to the Ministry of Health. This Smart facility is one of the 5 health care facilities in Guyana being retrofitted to become safer, greener, and more resilient to natural disasters and climate change. On 1st June 2020 Contractor Raffik and Sons started the retrofitting works which were supposed to completed on 31st May 2021, however, with the cooperation of all stakeholders the facility was completed on 6 April 2021.
The Diamond Smart Diagnostic Centre was retrofitted to improve its resistance to strong winds, flooding, and earthquakes as well as boost the 'greenness' of the facility and emergency contingency provisions. The Safety aspects included the installation of wind resistant roofs, windows, and doors as well as improved storm water management. Walls were strengthened, electrical wiring renewed, and a fire safety system installed. The Functional aspects of the retrofit included specific improvements for disabled persons, accessibility, telecommunication, and infection control. The Green upgrades provided more efficient cooling, ventilation and waste management, rainwater harvesting systems, LED-lighting, solar panels - all aimed at lowering the operating expenditures and environmental footprint. The facility also received a full upgrade of the Pharmacy and HVAC system to keep medicines and supplies at a safe storage temperature.
Ray Davidson, Deputy High Commissioner to Guyana told the participants: "I am to be here for the handover of this critical upgraded health facility - the first of five facilities selected for retrofitting with UK grant which will be instrumental in supporting the country's efforts to reduce disaster vulnerability of vital public buildings and boost its climate resilience". COVID -19 has further highlighted the importance of disaster preparedness and contingency measures at health facilities for staff and patients. The improvements will require careful and timely maintenance in order that they continue to operate and deliver their services most effectively.
Dr. Frank Anthony, Minister of Health told the gathering that this is a proud moment for the people of Guyana and particularly the catchment area of the Diamond Diagnostic Centre. "Climate Change is real and it is affecting the way we live with increased natural disaster and diseases and we have to ensure that our infrastructure and health system is ready and can function and that is why Smart hospitals project is important, ensuring that our facilities would be climate resilient". He thanked the PAHO/WHO team for ensuring that the facility was completed well before the due date. He also thanked the British Government for the funds provided indicating that without the funds transforming Diamond Diagnostic Centre into a Smart facility would not have been possible.
Dr. Luis F. Codina, PAHO/WHO Representative of Guyana said that "Guyana is one of the countries of the Caribbean region prone to natural hazards and high-risk to disasters such as flooding due to sea level rising and heavy rainfall, therefore, it is crucial for health facilities to be able to deliver care and protect its staff and patients during these conditions. Through this partnership with the UK Government, we can strengthen structural aspects and generate operational savings in an environmentally friendly and resilient health facilities." He also said that PAHO is committed to working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health for the success of the project which will ensure that all members of the communities are able to receive the best quality of healthcare possible while promoting environmental sustainability.
The £43.8m Strengthening Health Facilities in the Caribbean (Smart Hospital) project is currently implemented in 7 countries: Dominica, St. Lucia, Grenada, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, Belize, Guyana and Jamaica. The project is funded by UKaid through its Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in the Caribbean and implemented by PAHO in close collaboration with the Ministries of Health of the selected countries. Along with Diamond Diagnostic Centre, the other health facilities to be retrofitted under this project includes Leonora Cottage Hospital, Lethem Regional Hospital, Mabaruma District Hospital and Paramakatoi Health Centre, which are all expected to finish in 2021.