With resilience at the forefront of the country’s development, the Government of Dominica has rehabilitated and handed over a SMART Retrofit Health Centre in Grand Bay as overall plans to rebuild a robust and modern health system continue.

The newly upgraded health center was handed over on Thursday, January 13 2022 becoming one of a recent slew of new health facilities being built or upgraded across the island.

The new facility is the result of funding from the United Kingdom Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office and the Project Implementation Unit of the Pan American Health Organization.

Member of Parliament for the Grand Bay Constituency, Hon. Dr. Vince Henderson stated that he is “very excited because I have seen what this facility is doing for us here in the constituency and the community of Grand Bay.”

Dr. Henderson noted that this SMART health centre has been equipped with power sources aimed at providing twenty-four hour power for the facility in any situation. 

“We have a system that is robust; that will always ensure that we have power and that is a great achievement. So we have the solar power and we also have a backup diesel generators that can kick in if there is need. So that means that we are almost guaranteed twenty-four hour power unless of course something catastrophic happens and there is nothing else we can do. But every effort has been made to ensure that there is 24 hour power and I want to commend you for that and also thank you for the concept of this facility,” Dr. Henderson added. 

Project coordinator, Mr. Sylvester Henderson explained the SMART initiative stating that “The PAHO SMART Retrofit Initiative is a combination of two ideas, safe and green,” adding that “SMART means to include reduction in downtime and potential damage to the facility in the event of a disaster as well as reduce operational expenditure with water and energy management improvements and to ensure energy auto efficiency to support continuity in health care delivery in the event of a major disaster.”

Acting Minister for Health, Wellness and New Health Investment, Hon. Kent Edwards stated that this facility is another step towards Dominica’s goal of becoming climate resilient.

“I am able to identify the major improvements in this facility and these were designed to make this facility disaster resilient and environmentally friendly.  With this SMARTing of the health centre care facilities, we are well on our way to becoming the world’s first climate resilient country,” Hon. Edwards noted.

Hon. Edwards then commended the staff of the Grand Bay Health Centre for their commitment to providing health care to residents while the facility was being rehabilitated.

PAHO Country Programme Specialist, Ms. Anneke Wilson explained that the SMART initiative is one way to reduce a country’s carbon footprint. 

“Sometimes the best design criteria for safe hospitals are not always most beneficial for climate adaptation and mitigation; and therefore it is necessary to develop adaptive designs and construction stands for new hospitals, incorporating low energy and water use to help to reduce the carbon footprints. This is what the SMART initiative has been doing and has done,” Ms. Wilson noted.

Parliamentary Representative for the Petite Savanne Constituency. Hon. Dr. Kenneth Darroux stated that the SMART health centre will increase the community’s ability to provide quality care for patients.

“It means that there will be increased efficiency to respond to patients needs and address the problems at the community level. New technology and innovations can only auger well for the provision of health care to our most vulnerable citizens. We thus welcome this initiative and celebrate with the people of Grand Bay on the retrofitting of the health centre which brings the service more in line with modern technology and assist us with increasing the resilience of our health system,” Dr. Darroux noted.

The UK Government has made major investment in the amount of seventy million pounds, to assist Dominica in reaching its goal of becoming the first climate resilient nation in the world.

British High Commissioner to Dominica, His Excellency Scott Furssedonn-Wood stated that these smart facilities aim to conserve energy and contribute to the country’s annual savings from the environmentally friendly measures employed.

“I understand that Dominica is already seeing something like forty thousand US dollars per annum in savings from solar installations and water management improvement at the upgraded project sites. Dominica now also boats of the first off-grid solar powered health facility in La Plaine which was completed in 2019,” H.E Furssedonn-Wood explained.

Four other health centers across the island including La Plaine, Portsmouth, Massacre and Trafalgar have benefited from the SMART initiative.