St. Vincent and the Grenadines is set to launch Phase Two of the Smart Health Care facilities under the Eastern Caribbean Project, as expansion and developmental work continues in the health sector here.
The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment has announced that the second phase of the project has been approved by the Department for International Development (DFID) and will be implemented in the four Windward Islands at a cost of approximately eight million British Pounds.
A Smart hospital is designed to be environmentally friendly and energy efficient.
The project is expected to run for the next three years and will see the “smarting” of at least three other medium sized hospital facilities in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
At a recent meeting led by Simone Baniste, Climate Change and Environment Adviser for DFID Caribbean, and Dr. Dana Van Alphen, PAHO Regional Advisor in Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief, with professionals from the Ministry of Health etc, the Ministry of Finance and Planning, the Ministry of Transport and Works, the Energy Unit within the Ministry of National Security etc, a National Project Coordination Committee was established to oversee the implementation of the project.
Speaking on the benefits of the project, Dr. Van Alphen noted that the initiative will see cost savings on health care and utility bills, reduced greenhouse gas 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 will take place, and these facilities will be 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.
According to the Health Planner in the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, David Latchman: “More than 67% of hospitals in the Caribbean and Latin America are located in areas of higher risk of disaster. Enormous economic losses occur when health facilities are destroyed or damaged by natural disasters and they must be re-built, and downtime limits their ability to provide emergency care to victims and ongoing healthcare for their communities. Building resilience of communities and critical buildings like hospitals delivers better results in terms of lives saved and livelihoods protected than simply through responding to the effects of disasters or climate variability.”
The Ministry of Health is moving forward in establishing an integrated and forward looking approach to hospital design and asserts that this is essential if health facilities are to be safe, green and sustainable.
The Georgetown Smart Hospital was completed in 2013 and has been the flagship pilot project for the smart hospital initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean.