Friday, October 11, 2019
By LEANDRA ROLLE
WITH cost of repairs to the Rand Memorial Hospital and Marsh Harbour Clinic said to be more than $20m, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands believes it is possible that the government will have to acquire additional loans to assist the recovery process in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.
"The Abaco clinic is in excess to $2m, inclusive of equipment, damage to the structures, etc. In terms of the Rand (in Grand Bahama), we anticipate the costs of approximately $19m… so far, we (at the Ministry of Health) have calculated almost $100m in added costs," he said.
"Those costs don't just come out of the sky. We have to identify cost savings. It is likely that the government of The Bahamas will have to get additional loans and I'm sure the minister of finance and the prime minister will reveal that information," he said.
Speaking to reporters at a mental health conference yesterday, Dr Sands noted the Ministry of Health, like all other ministries, will have to review its budget and reprioritise spending as a result of Dorian.
"Abaco and Grand Bahama play a critical role in revenue generation... we now have added expenditure, things that we could not have anticipated and, so, yes…..we have to determine what the priorities are for the next ten months," he said.
However, for the moment, Dr Sands said the ministry's main areas of focus will be geared towards the remediation of healthcare facilities in Abaco and Grand Bahama.
"You have to continue to provide primary care and acute care all over the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. That is priority," he added.
"We have been in discussions with strategic partners, in particular the University of Miami through the chairman of the board of trustees, through the dean of their medical school, (and they) have offered to partner with the Marsh Harbour Clinic to get it back to lightning status and to ensure that all of the damage (is) remediated.
"We are willing to accept the offer and we are in the process now of completing a memorandum of understanding. In a similar fashion, we have agreed for remediation to the Rand Memorial Hospital and a number of the clinics."
Dr Sands could not say when repairs to the healthcare facilities on Abaco and Grand Bahama will begin and therefore, be completed.
According to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest, the government anticipates spending nearly $230m to assist with recovery efforts following Hurricane Dorian.