First phase of New Amsterdam Hospital completed By Daniel Da Costa
Stabroek News
March 6, 2004

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The completion of the multi-million dollar state-of-the-art New Amsterdam Hospital on the southern edge of the town was marked with a simple ceremony yesterday in one of the eight completed wards.

Work on the project which is being executed in two phases began one year ago in March. The first phase was completed late last month at a cost of US$6 million with funding from a Japanese Grant Aid project. It includes a laundry, eight wards with a capacity of 114 beds, a kitchen, sewing room, scullery, canteen and an electrical room. The total amount of the grant aid for the new institution is approximately US$13.2 million.

Speaking at the ceremony, acting Minister of Health, Dr. Jennifer Westford thanked the Japanese Government for "an invaluable gift" and described the project as "another symbol of a joint effort between diverse peoples and nations in the fight against illnesses and disease."

"I am convinced that it is also a symbol of the expected expansion of co-operation through other projects in the health sector between the peoples of Guyana and Japan," she told the small gathering.

Mr Shirai, a representative of Japanese Ambassador Masateru Ito, in brief remarks said "it is expected that on completion, the facilities and equipment for this hospital will be improved substantially and it will become a hospital valued by the people of the region, satisfying their medical requirements. The Government of Japan hopes that this grant aid may contribute to the development of the field of hygiene and medical care in Guyana, the prosperity of the country and the promotion of friendship between the two countries."

He was accompanied by four Japanese officials connected to the project. The second phase of the project began last November and is expected to be completed by December at an additional cost of approximately US$6 million. The contract has been awarded to Kitano Construction Corporation of Japan with three local sub-contractors assisting in various areas.

The second phase will include construction of an Outpatient Department, a central Clinical Department and an Administrative Block. It will also see the construction of operating theatres and clinical support services and some medical equipment.

One Japanese official told Stabroek News that all of the equipment for phase one has already arrived, including the 114 beds for the eight wards. Equipment for the second phase began arriving in February and will continue to be brought into the country over the next few months. The cost of the equipment for the first phase, he said, was approximately US$500,000 while that for the second phase will cost in the vicinity of US$1 million.

Some 60 workers are now employed by Kitano while a similar number are employed by local contractors. Kitano has four engineers and one consultant on site.

According to Dr. Westford as strides are made to improve the physical infrastructure in the health sector, it has been recognised that there is "need to address with equal focus the critical element of human resource development and retention especially in the light of the active migration from the sector."

The curricula of the ministry's training programmes, she explained, are being reviewed and revised to ensure that medical professionals are adequately equipped with the knowledge to deal with emerging challenges. "We are expanding the quantum of nurses and medexes being trained in 2004. Our bilateral co-operation agreements with countries like Cuba, India, China, the United States and Japan have also served to strengthen our health system by assisting with financial and human resources."

The Ministry of Health, Dr. Westford said, has noted the constant emphasis on workplace safety by the Japanese contractors and consultants. "This is a good practice and I hope it will remain with us long after the project is completed." She also congratulated the local contractors and workers for their hard work and commitment in ensuring that the First Phase was completed on schedule. The ceremony which started half an hour late was chaired by Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Sonya Roopnauth.

The hospital complex which occupies some 18,779 square metres of sprawling prime land will see the construction of one main two-storey administrative block and six surrounding one-flat buildings. It is nestled between the New Amsterdam Technical Institute, the national Psychiatric Hospital and the St. Aloysius Primary School. It will replace the existing 119-year-old run down historical edifice at Main and Charles Place.