GOB breaks ground for the San Pedro Hospital

GOB breaks ground for the San Pedro Hospital

Today was historic for the islanders of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker as they bore witness to the groundbreaking for the San Pedro General Hospital. Last month, the government, the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and the Overseas Engineering & Construction Company (OECC) signed off on the contract for its construction. This morning, the first phase of its development commenced as stakeholders, residents, and government officials gathered at the future site of the medical facility. Reporter Vejea Alvarez tells us more.

Vejea Alvarez, Love News

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: In less than three years the residents of La Isla Bonita and Caye Caulker will have much greater access to affordable and reliable healthcare in their backyard. Today the Briceno administration broke ground for the construction of the San Pedro general hospital just south of the island’s center. The $33 million dollar medical facility is being funded by the Taiwanese government and is the result of a meeting with the leaders of both nations back in 2021 according to Prime Minister John Briceno.

Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “It’s probably about ten years in the making because the previous government in successive years they put in their budget they were going to build a hospital in Belize and that was never done. When I visited Taiwan one of the things in our discussions with president we spoke about the urgency of building a hospital here in San Pedro. San Pedro is the tourism Mecca and we do not have a hospital and he quickly saw what we were talking about and in that visit they agreed that want to give us a grant for $33 million Belize dollars for us to be able to build the hospital. We believe that with that budget we should be able to build a hospital that can provide the necessary service that the people of San Pedro and of course Caye Caulker.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News:  The state of the art facility will sit on a 4.5 acre plot of land and will boast a helipad, surgical ward, pharmacy and even a small chapel. Minister of Health and Wellness Keving Bernard underscored the importance of the venture and how it will provide the range of medical services.

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “For me and I know for the residents of San Pedro and Caye Caulker this signifies as I had mentioned the embodiment of hope and progress. It’s been quite long overdue and I know that the residents of this island and the Caye Caulker residents surely are happy for us to do the official groundbreaking today. The work officially now starts. This hospital is a general hospital that will provide primary and secondary care services and so there will be the normal services that are offered, x-ray services, ultrasound services, maternal and child healthcare services and all the other basic primary care services that are offered at any facility. Of course we will want to see at some point where we can further enhance other diagnostics but definitely this hospital will be able to provide the necessary services before anybody needs to be treated at any tertiary facility.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News:  For years islanders have been forced to seek medical care on the mainland which is often time consuming and costly. Belize Rural South Area Representative Andre Perez was one of the residents clamoring for its construction and says it will undoubtedly contribute to saving lives on the island.

Andre Perez, Area Representative, Belize Rural South: “It’s now more than a need it’s strategic. It’s ample space, it’s almost five acres, it’s right on a road that is paved just south of the island, easily accessible to the air strip, I am told that it’s going to come with a helipad as well so it is very strategic. There’s room for expansion so really this plan for this hospital is about building a hospital now but making plans for the future.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Apart from serving as a beacon of hope for residents of the islands Taiwanese Ambassador Lily Hsu says today’s ceremony underscores the overarching goal of both nations to improve the everyday lives of their citizens.

Lily Li-Wen Hsu, Ambassador: “Today is a happy day. It is always a great pleasure to visit this beautiful island, the Ambergris Caye and the tourist Mecca of Belize San Pedro. This morning I feel especially excited as we are gathering here for such a momentous occasion, the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of General Hospital for San Pedro Town and Caye Caulker Village.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: For the Briceno administration the hospital’s construction signifies another step in it’s goal of implementing universal healthcare in Belize.

Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “It’s going in the right direction. I mentioned starting the new financial year and by June we restart now registering people here in both islands for the National Health Insurance. We have done in south side of Belize City and now we’re going to go on the north side and then right after that we go onto the Cayo district and we hope by the end of our term if we have not covered everyone we’re almost to the point of covering everyone.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: The hospital will be constructed by a Taiwanese company and is expected to be up and running in approximately thirty six months.

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