Ministry of Health $670m ‘wishlist’ to overhaul health sector

Ministry of Health $670m ‘wishlist’ to overhaul health sector
Princess Margaret Hospital.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Ministry of Health’s ‘wish list’ at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) pledge conference included up to $670 million worth of works for projects to overhaul the health sector throughout the Bahamas post-Dorian.

The projects summary outlines the fragile state of health care services in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian and an overview of works required to address the urgent needs of The Bahamian populous.

Among the projects presented in the wish list include a  better and stronger Rand Memorial Hospital in Grand Bahama estimated between $90 million to $120 million; a new hospital for New Providence at $300 million to $500 and the construction and repurpose of clinics on Abaco and the Cays at $30 million to $50 million.

The total budget of the three projects would cost between $420 million to $670 million.

The costs however would “exclude air and sea transportation which is needed and essential for delivery of health care services in The Bahamas”.

“The passage of Hurricane Dorian through The Bahamas on September 1-3, 2019 resulted in significant infrastructural damages on both Grand Bahama and the Abaco,” the summary states.

“Public sector health care services delivery was altered on these islands and by extension, New Providence.

“Deficiencies in the public sector healthcare system infrastructure and services on islands directly impacted as well as New Providence were realized.

“The population shift from both islands into New Providence, with an already challenged health service at the community clinics and Princess Margret Hospital, has been impacted by events surrounding Dorian.”

In its appeal for a new hospital for New Providence, the MOH notes that PMH has long outgrown its clinical spaces and the ability to safely provide the level of service required to meet the healthcare needs of the nation.

In the aftermath of the deadly Category 5 storm the preexisting situation with respect to critical bed shortages and the need to expand clinical spaces has been exacerbated.

“Inpatient wards are over-crowded, particularly maternity, male surgical and children’s wards; shortages in critical services areas (i.e. Dialysis, ICU); and notable challenges within the Emergency Department include further overcrowding with accompanying long wait times, constrained workspaces, and poor patient/work flows,” the summary notes.

In Grand Bahama, the physical structure of the Rand Memorial Hospital was either lost entirely or compromised due to the intrusion of standing black water and the High Rock facility was demolished.

In its plans for Rand, the MOH notes that “based on previous facility assessments, the following contributing factors indicate that there is a critical need for a new facility and investments should not be channeled to attempt repairing the entire facility.”

As for Abaco, which sustained direct impact from the storm, the Hope Town Clinic on Elbow Cay will need replacement and Coopers Town Clinic in North Abaco sustained infrastructural damages requiring repair.

The summary indicates that in order to provide the highest level of quality health care services to remaining and returning  residents, “it is essential that the Cooper’s Town Clinic be repaired and repurposed as an advanced primary care facility with the provision of required imaging and diagnostics.

“The Sandy Point Clinic in South Abaco, while sustaining no direct infrastructural damages from Dorian, will require repurposing mirroring that of the Cooper’s Town Clinic given the major population shift to this settlement.

“Moore’s Island, Man-O-War Cay, Fox Town and Green Turtle Cay clinics all require service augmentation with required infrastructural changes as needed while Guana Cay is now in need of a new clinic.”

The MOH puts forth a vision to be able to deliver the highest level of care to all residents on Abaco, utilizing a network of seven clinics, with March Harbour as the hub – providing 24-hour primary, secondary and tertiary care services.

During the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Hurricane Dorian Private Sector Pledging Conference on Monday, United States-based company, the P3 Group pledged $975 million under a public private partnership, that would provide the funding for the projects.

The lease purchase agreement would give the company ownership of the facilities developed until the final payment is made.

However, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands has insisted that the proposal is still a conceptual idea and discussions on the matter are ongoing.

Dorian was the strongest storm to hit north west Bahamas with maximum sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, gusts of 220 miles per hour and storm surges over 20 feet.

There have been 70 confirmed deaths as a result of Hurricane Dorian.