Prime Minister Andrew Holness opened the new J$53 million male ward at the Westmoreland Infirmary in Savanna-la-Mar on April 26.
The new building, which can house up to 50 residents, is a collaboration between the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) and the National Housing Trust (NHT).
“My administration is committed to ensure that all our infirmaries are renovated so that the conditions are suitable for the residents and for caregivers. It is important that caregivers have a comfortable and decent environment to perform their duties,” said PM Holness during his keynote address at the official ceremony.
He also told the gathering that the Government will do more spend on social programmes in the upcoming fiscal year to protect the most vulnerable and the poor.
“I want to take this opportunity to commit the Administration to doing more in the next Budget. We have increased this Budget as well, but in the Budget to come we must make a special effort to focus resources on the most vulnerable and the poor,” Mr. Holness explained.
“The reason why I am saying this is that the pandemic has disrupted our trajectory. I don’t believe that the country has fully internalised the effect of the pandemic and that one of the most [telling] impacts of the pandemic is inflation…(and) the people who are affected most by inflation are the poor.”
He said the COVID-19 pandemic brought hardships on the lives of many Jamaicans, especially the less fortunate, and that the Government has an obligation to assist.
The Prime Minister further stated that the Government must deliberately ramp up its support.
“So, your Government is actively thinking about that strategy. And, hopefully, when we come to read our next Budget, we will have some good news about how we’re going to support our most vulnerable who have been impacted… but in tangible ways, not just unconditional cash transfers.”
Honourable Desmond McKenzie, Portfolio Minister for MLGRD, in his remarks said the new ward “represents a significant investment” to enhance the lives of the most vulnerable in the society. The J$53m price tag includes the cost for the new building, a sewage system for the infirmary property and furniture for the ward. The building is easily accessible for persons with disabilities and comprises a dormitory, doctor’s office, bathrooms, nurse’s station, and a treatment room for physiotherapy services.
The Ministry’s collaboration with the NHT also resulted in new wards being built at the Manchester, Portland, and St. James Infirmaries as well as a matron’s quarters in Westmoreland and an administrative building at the St. Elizabeth Infirmary. The joint venture under which J$200m was spent also included the installation of solar water heaters at five infirmaries in Manchester, Portland, St. Elizabeth, St. Mary, and St. Thomas.