PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley said Government, the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Interhealth Canada are working out a public private partnership that will turn the Couva Children and Adult Hospital into an offshore medical school. Headquartered in Toronto, InterHealth Canada focuses on the development, commissioning and management of healthcare facilities. Since 1994, InterHealth has employed over 5000 professionals worldwide and provided healthcare to a combined population of over 20 million people.
The Prime Minister said the Indian government will also play a role in this initiative which can be a catalyst for medical tourism in TT. Speaking at the post-Cabinet news conference at the post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, Rowley said this initiative, “allows Government to kill a number of birds with one stone.” He added, “Not the least of which is to settle some significant debt that the Government of TT owes the UWI.” Rowley said this debt is approximately $200 million , accumulated over several years.
He said UWI raised this issue at a Caricom Heads of Government meeting in Haiti. Rowley said Education Minister Anthony Garcia left the country yesterday to attend a UWI meeting where this matter will be discussed. Rowley said the Couva Hospital will now be teaching hospital, owned by Government and run by UWI. He said InterHealth will provide healthcare services in a model that TT is not accustomed to.
Rowley was optimistic that the services offered at Couva could be expanded to the Scarborough Hospital, ushering medical tourism into TT. He added the Couva Hospital was more of an adult hospital as the number of beds for adults exceeded those for children. Rowley was pleased with the “considerable progress” made on the Couva Hospital. He said more details would be provided in the coming weeks about this arrangement.
Rowley said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was excited about India participating in this initiative, through the provision of Ayurvedic medicine at Couva. The Prime Minister also said Modi has offered that India could train TT helicopter pilots through a government to government arrangement. Rowley said TT welcomes this because of the tremendous cost incurred to train these pilots in the United States. He said Modi invited him to visit India at a mutually convenient time. The Couva Hospital was built under the former People’s Partnership government but never commissioned.