THE government last Friday began talks with officials from the University of the West Indies (UWI) with regards to the Couva Children’s Hospital (Couva Medical and Multi-Training Facility).
In a media release from the Communications Unit of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs Ministry, it said that Stuart Young coordinated the meeting. He is the minister in the ministry as well as Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister.
The meeting took place at the Ministry at AGLA Tower, Port of Spain. Among those in attendance were Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh and representatives from his Ministry.
Representatives from UWI included: Chancellor, Robert Bermudez; St Augustine Campus principal, Brian Copeland; Campus Bursar, Andrea Taylor-Hanna; Legal Officer Camille Ramcharan; and Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Terrence Seemungal.
Last month Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced that there would be a public-private partnership between global healthcare management firm InterHealth Canada, UWI and the government to operate the hospital.
Since then, the opposition has been calling for details of the partnership saying that there are numerous allegations of corruption against InterHealth Canada.
On Thursday in response to questions by Chaguanas East MP Fazal Karim in Parliament, Rowley said that discussions are underway to establish an arrangement where that hospital would be made available for use for nationals, regional and international clients.
Those discussions are “well underway” between the three parties, he said.
Former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had cut the ribbon to open the Couva Children’s Hospital on August 14, 2015, weeks before the general election. It was intended to have a 150-bed Adult Hospital, an 80- bed Children’s Hospital, a Burns Care and Plastic Surgery Centre amongst other features.
The Persad-Bissessar administration claimed it was ready for use. But when the PNM won the election, current government officials said the hospital was not ready. Several arrangements were being considered to have the facility operational.
Under the latest arrangement, the hospital is to house offshore medical training. During his mid-year budget review on Thursday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said the government is “rebranding” the hospital as a first world hospital and medical training facility.
In the interim, the Government of India is offering opportunities to healthcare professionals to contribute to training at the facility by teaching traditional Indian medicine, Imbert said.