CDB, EIB Launch US$9.86 million Project to Improve Saint Lucia Health Care Systems

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

A planned upgrade of the Saint Lucia Health Systems made possible through a US$9.86 million loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), financed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), will begin shortly following a launch in Saint Lucia today.

Nearly US$2 million will be utilised for purchasing critical medical equipment such as ventilators, x-ray machines, ultrasound devices, and dental, neonatal, and eye care equipment. The benefiting health facilities include La Ressource Wellness Centre, Castries Urban Centre, Dennery Hospital, Soufriere Hospital, Comfort Bay Home for Older Persons, St. Jude Hospital, Vieux-Fort Wellness Centre and Gros Islet Polyclinic.

Another US$3 million will be allocated for improvements at five healthcare facilities. Two facilities damaged by fire in recent years, the La Ressource Wellness Centre and the Soufriere Hospital, will be refurbished and rehabilitated, while the Comfort Bay Home for Older Persons, will be retrofitted and expanded. The Castries Urban Centre will be relocated and expanded, and a new annex will be added to the Dennery Hospital.

The financing will also facilitate capacity building for healthcare workers in key areas including Biomedical Equipment Technician Certification, rehabilitation and counselling, and risk communication. The remaining funds will support training for nurses in a range of specialties including intensive care, nephrology, neonatology, emergency care, geriatric care, oncology, and nursing administration, procuring supplies and pharmaceuticals as well as providing a range of training and capacity-building solutions for health care workers.

CDB’s Director of Project, Therese Turner-Jones said the investment would help to strategically position Saint Lucia to better respond to health crises. “These resources will strengthen the resilience of Saint Lucia and allow citizens and health institutions to better withstand unexpected challenges now and in the future,” Turner-Jones said.

The project financing was provided under the EIB Climate Action Line of Credit II – COVID-19 component. In total, three countries will benefit from the US$29.8 million agreement under which the EIB aims to bolster the region’s health systems in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic with concessional financing thanks to backing from the European Union (EU). Investing to strengthen healthcare around the world is one of the pillars of the EU’s Global Gateway strategy, in which the EIB is a key partner.

Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewksa of the EU Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, asserted, “The EU has been a key supporter of the health sector in Saint Lucia for many years. It is important to note that standalone projects such as the Owen King-EU Hospital are one of the ways we support Saint Lucia. Supporting the health system with appropriate and suitable levels of equipment and staff for service delivery is directly aligned with our global commitment to Universal Health Coverage.”

EIB Representative for Southern and Eastern Caribbean, Kristina Eisele, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated more than ever the importance of efficient and effective healthcare. At EIB Global we are glad to finance new medical equipment, refurbished buildings and specialist training in Saint Lucia, which will help to ensure people everywhere on the island receive the care they need.”

Saint Lucia’s Minister for Health, Wellness & Elderly Affairs, Moses Jn. Baptiste said the government is committed to health care reform, “We believe that universal health coverage is achievable. We see that we must accelerate health care reform and we must be ready for the next pandemic, not if it comes but when it comes. All of these activities are very important, and I look forward to the implementation of these projects,” said Jn. Baptiste.

The EIB is financing similar projects in Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) scheduled to be launched later in February. The Grenada initiative will involve health infrastructural works while the efforts in SVG will include strengthening the medical supply chain.

Donate At Caribbean News Service, we do not charge for our content and we want to keep it that way. We are seeking support from individuals and organisations so we can continue our work & develop CNS further.