To date over 2,000 radiological exams have been done at the Couva Medical and Multi-Training Facility (CMMF) since it became operational on June 15.
Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh made the statement after visiting children in the Just Because Foundation Ward at the Wendy Fitzwilliam Children’s Hospital, Eric Williams Sciences Complex, Mt Hope on Boxing Day.
He said the ministry would send out a request for proposal to find an operator early in the new year. It was also planning to make the Couva facility a teaching hospital, used by the University of the West Indies, and the university had already moved in optometry teaching equipment.
Speaking to other public-health improvements, he said construction would begin on the Central Block of the Port of Spain General Hospital early in the new year. “We are moving across some departments right now as we speak. Once those departments are moved across to new facilities, we (will) demolish the rest of the buildings and start soil testing and construction sometime in January.”
He added that the Arima and Point Fortin hospitals would be operational by March 2020 and the sod had already been turned for the Sangre Grande hospital.
In addition, he said the ministry would launch three projects in 2020. These included the decentralisation of mental health treatment, a national policy on the treatment of gestational diabetes, and an umbrella policy for cancer treatment.
“We have never had a comprehensive umbrella policy integrated position on the treatment of cancer. We do well in radiation, we do well in chemotherapy, we do well in oral therapy, but what we need, and what we missed, was a policy position on an integrated approach.”
He said the policy was supposed to be done with the National Oncology Centre, but owing to lawsuits and controversies, after 12 years only 20 per cent was completed at the cost of $250 million.
“We took a decision to stop it because the taxpayer could not be asked to continue funding a project which was doomed from the start. However, having said that, you will hear next month what we are doing at St James and how we are partnering with the private sector to realise the dream of an integrated approach to the treatment of cancer.”
Before these announcements, Deyalsingh brought some Christmas joy to the paediatric cancer ward. He sat and chatted with some of the patients for a few minutes, asked how they were feeling, and gave them gifts.
He said his visits to various hospitals throughout the year were to celebrate the success of the public health care system. “It is to also associate myself with the nurses and doctors who selfishly come out on public holidays, leave their families, and everybody else. I mean, they would like to be home with their families but here they are today working and providing world-class care to these little precious children.”
He said it was his pleasure and honour to visit and support the children and health care workers of the nation.