Remarks By Prime Minister Hubert A. Ingraham
At The Contract-Signing For The New Exuma Community Hospital
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
I am happy to be here today for the official contract-signing for the new community hospital for Exuma. This is yet another health facility constructed through the National Insurance Board.
I wish to again thank NIB for its extraordinary partnership with the Government in the national and social development of The Bahamas.
In particular I thank Mr. Algernon Cargill and his staff at Headquarters in Nassau and throughout the country for the extraordinary work you have done with the introduction of the landmark unemployment benefit and the prescription drug benefit.
It must especially rewarding to touch the lives of so many of your fellow countrymen in such a meaningful manner.
Today’s occasion serves to highlight the ongoing transformation of our National Health System. In addition to the launch of the landmark prescription drug benefit my Government is continuing with a comprehensive multi-year programme to upgrade and expand health care facilities throughout the country. We are further committed to the introduction of National Catastrophic Health Insurance.
I hasten to note that quite a number of residents here in Exuma are utilizing the prescription drug benefit. We propose to expand this benefit to all workers.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
When my first Government took office in 1992, we understood the need for holistic national development. This included economic and social development. With regards to social development we placed a priority on education, housing, social security and health care.
To improve access to quality health care requires improving the health infrastructure of the country inclusive of facilities and technology. We must continue to be forward-looking and innovative. We are, after all, building a 21st century nation and health care system.
The provision of quality health care is a matter of both social justice and economic development. This is captured in the proverb: The health of the nation is the wealth of the nation.
Through its medical benefits branch the National Insurance Board has played an integral part in improving the delivery of health care throughout the country.
To date, this commitment has translated into the construction and equipping of 20 community health care facilities. These facilities provide essential medical services to Bahamian people in an affordable manner. Of note, the majority of these facilities are located in the Family Islands.
Just some weeks ago we officially opened a new community hospital in Inagua. Presently, my Government is commencing the construction of community hospitals here in Exuma and in Abaco. We propose also to build hospitals in Eleuthera and Long Island.
The development of community hospitals is a critical part of my Governments overall strategic plan for the development of the Family Islands. This development includes investing in an array of public services and infrastructure such as airports, roads, ports and on-island access to services such as those offered by the Public Treasury and other Government entities.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Over the past decade this island’s population grew from 3,571 in 2000 to 7,314 in 2010. Exuma is an important economic centre in The Bahamas. In revenue terms, you are about fourth in The Bahamas.
I have spoken before of Exuma Reincarnation. Exuma is poised for expanded development inclusive of domestic and foreign investment. Already there has been increased airlift to Great Exuma. Your agricultural sector is continuing to grow.
Through my Government’s Back to the Island Campaign we will further facilitate the return of native Exumians to the island of their birth. You will benefit also from the Heritage Tourism Initiative which will help to facilitate the multimillion dollar heritage tourism sector.
To spur and sustain this development, my Government is committed to building a new port and a by-pass road and other new roads. We will also build a new gymnasium and an airport terminal becoming of your status and standing.
The new port, hospital facility and bypass road are being built to improve the quality of life of hotel employees travelling to work, mothers receiving pre-natal and neo-natal care, farmers shipping their produce, and small business people seeking to expand their businesses.
Of course critical to your development is access to enhanced health care facilities. Your new community hospital will be a single-storied approximately 32,000-sq. structure that will offer full health care services including an operating theater, dental suite, laboratory and an ambulance service. There will also be two auxiliary buildings housing a morgue, and mechanical equipment. This hospital is of the same size and design of the hospital being constructed in Abaco notwithstanding the fact that Abaco’s population is close to double that of Exuma. This hospital can be expected to serve the health care needs of Exuma for twenty plus years.
This hospital is being constructed in what is planned as a new township just outside of Georgetown. In close proximity we will eventually construct a new Administrative Complex providing a centralized location for accessing services from the central government, a new housing subdivision and a school.
The contract being signed today by the National Insurance Board and Reef Construction Company Ltd. is valued at nearly $14 million dollars. Construction is due to take approximately 60 weeks.
I am especially pleased that an Exumian Alvin K. Rolle of Alvin K. Rolle & Associates, a New Providence-based architectural firm, designed the complex. I am also pleased that the construction of this new facility will help to spur economic activity here in Exuma.
The Quantity Surveyor is Construction Cost Engineering Ltd. The Structural Engineer is Adrian V. Rollins of Structural & Civil Engineers and the Mechanical Engineer is Graphite Engineering Ltd.
I wish to close by congratulating Georgetown and all the communities of Exuma that will be served by this new health care facility. Following today’s signing work will begin immediately on your new community health centre.
Exuma is set for great things. Today’s signing is a sign of things to come. It is an investment in your future and a sign of confidence in the tremendous possibilities of Exuma.
So, I congratulate you on this achievement. Cherish this facility and make it a centre for the promotion of healthier lifestyles and well-being.
I end by simply saying: To your good health. Thank you and good morning.