HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh yesterday slammed Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar for claiming there is corruption in a public-private partnership arrangement between the Government, the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Interhealth Canada. Persad-Bissessar made her claims at a United National Congress (UNC) function last Saturday, saying allegations of corruption against Interhealth could be found online.
“I completely reject any allegation of corruption,” Deyalsingh told Newsday. The hospital was built under the former People’s Partnership government but never commissioned.
He said Persad-Bissessar is also alleging that UWI is involved in corruption and that is wrong. “UWI is a friend to us and to the rest of the region,” Deyalsingh said.
According to Deyalsingh, Persad-Bissessar has spoken some untruths about the hospital. These included the hospital being a gift from the Chinese government; that it was the first children’s hospital in TT; it was needed; the hospital was opened on August 14, 2015; Couva was the original location for the hospital; and Deyalsingh had directed equipment to be moved out of the hospital.
Deyalsingh said a $1.6 million loan was taken out to build the hospital; the Wendy Fitzwilliam Paediatric Hospital is TT’s first hospital and was already in existence at Mt Hope; the hospital was not needed because no more than 70 per cent of the Wendy Fitzwilliam Hospital was ever utilised; the hospital was shut down shortly after it was opened in August 2015; the hospital was originally supposed to be located in the Chaguanas West constituency with a mall and hotel; and a joint select committee proved no equipment was moved out of the hospital on his instructions.
There are no issues with Interhealth, Deyalsingh said, adding that it has other medical facilities in the region and is doing very well. Once this initiative is implemented, Deyalsingh said, it will significantly improve the level of health care in TT.
At last Thursday’s post-Cabinet news conference, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said the Couva Hospital will be a teaching hospital, owned by Government and run by UWI, and InterHealth will provide healthcare services in a model that TT is not accustomed to.