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Prime Minister Drew’s Remarks Delivered at the Signing Ceremony for the National Hospital Project on May 2

It is a pleasure to have you all here to witness this Project Start Ceremony. It therefore means that all of the signings that happened today; earlier this morning with the Offer and Acceptance and the final signing this afternoon, these signings culminate the preliminary work to get this project on its way, and that is why it is not just Groundbreaking, it’s Project Start.
Let me thank President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, who months ago, almost a year signed, and I signed, the document to ensure that this project was really getting on its way. President Tsai is on her way out, she completed her two terms as the President of the Republic of China (Taiwan), but I want to thank her for making sure that this project, this landmark project would come to fruition. Put our hands together for her. I ask, of course, Ambassador to convey our sincerest appreciation to President Tsai who is going to leave officially this month, on the 20th of May.
Moments ago, we witnessed a historic milestone as the ink met the paper, sealing the contract for our new National Hospital Project. With the signing of that contract, we have embarked on a journey that signifies progress, resilience, and a steadfast commitment to the well-being of all of our people and visitors.
For too long, the need for a modern, climate-smart hospital has been apparent. Our current healthcare infrastructure, while commendable, is not equipped to withstand the challenges posed by climate change, but with the contract now signed, we are turning a page in our history. We are committing not just to bricks and mortar, but to a vision of healthcare that is resilient, adaptable, and compassionate.
I want to extend my deepest gratitude to the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) for their steadfast partnership and support. Their financial assistance and technical expertise will be the cornerstone of this project. For over 40 years, our nations have stood together, and today, as we reflect on the signed contract, we reaffirm the strength of our friendship and the depth of our commitment to each other. Ambassador Lin, on behalf of a grateful nation, thank you very much, and this extends, of course, to you and your team and the Government and People of the Republic of China (Taiwan).
Additionally, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Overseas Engineering and Construction Company (OECC) for their invaluable role in this endeavor. With their reputation for professionalism and their track record of excellence, we are confident that they will deliver a hospital that not only meets, but exceeds our expectations. Their expertise will ensure that our vision for a modern, climate-smart hospital becomes a reality, setting new standards for healthcare infrastructure in the Region.
Together with the OECC and our partners in the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan), we are embarking on a journey to build not just a hospital, but a beacon of hope and healing for our nation. With their support and expertise, we are well-equipped to overcome any challenges that may arise and to build a healthier, more resilient future for St. Kitts and Nevis.
I want to assure the people of St. Kitts and Nevis that this hospital belongs to you. It is your fundamental right to have access to good, quality healthcare, and we are committed to delivering on that promise. When this hospital is completed, I urge you to take ownership of it, cherish it, and ensure that it continues to serve future generations.
Today’s ceremony is not just about the future; it is also an opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made in healthcare thus far. The Ministry of Health, under my leadership as Minister, with an excellent, has achieved remarkable milestones, demonstrating our unwavering dedication to improving healthcare access for all citizens.

  1. Financial Assistance Programs: The Ministry has spearheaded financial assistance programmes for children needing urgent medical aid overseas, ensuring that no child is denied necessary medical care due to financial constraints. Over thirty (30) children have benefitted, and I want to announce, and of course, this statistic was provided to me by our Adviser, Dr. Patrick Martin, who advised that no child between one (1) and five (5) years of age, died in out Federation last year. This is a significant achievement.
  2. Medical Equipment Procurement: From dialysis machines to cataract equipment, the Ministry has ensured that our hospitals are equipped with modern medical technology to provide the best possible care to patients. We are now expecting our modern one hundred and twenty-five (125) slice CT Scan Machine to be installed this month and I want to thank Dr. Frank Laws for his significant leadership and input in achieving this milestone. Also, want to state that the MRI housing, that is, the building where the MRI machine will be placed. That building has started and is well on its way. I want to thank again the Republic of China (Taiwan).
  3. We have also had Legal Reforms: The Ministry has undertaken the important task of reviewing laws, decriminalizing the possession and cultivation of Cannabis, and addressing crucial public health and legal issues. We were able to adjust the law so that our nurses do not have to register twice per year but can register once every two (2) years. 
  4. Expanded Healthcare Services: Initiatives like the 24/7 doctor service at Pogson Medical Center, which we deem a significant milestone, but we continue to work to improve. This bold step is to ensure that as far as possible, medical personnel will be available at the hospital.
  5. Training and Capacity Building: Over 250 healthcare workers have received life support systems training, that’s ACLS, and BLS; Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Basic Life training as well. In addition to that we have provided full scholarships to our nurses so that they can pursue specialization courses overseas.  
  6. Human Resource Capacity: The Ministry has invested in increasing human resource capacity at the local Blood Bank, ensuring a steady supply of blood for medical emergencies and other medical necessities. Let me also add that we now have the most specialists that we have ever had at any one time at JNF and that has led to a significant improvement in healthcare delivery.
  7. Financial Management: We met a significant debt when we took over the Ministry of Health; well over 2 million dollars, and we have settled that debt owed to medical suppliers has ensured the smooth functioning of our healthcare system, preventing disruptions in essential medical supplies.
  8. Infrastructure Improvements: Restoration and decluttering efforts at the Ministry of Health Headquarters and the Cardin Home have created safer and more efficient working environments for healthcare professionals. Let me thank the Republic of China (Taiwan) for their significant input in fixing the roof at the JNF hospital, ensuring that the leaking is stopped.
  9. Collaboration and Research: Memoranda of understanding between institutions like Ross University and the Ministry of Health & Agriculture have fostered collaboration in scientific research, advancing medical knowledge and innovation.

These activities represent just a fraction of the tireless work carried out by the Ministry of Health. I pause here to thank the senior management team and all the members of staff of the Ministry of Health for their continued patience and diligence even in the face of the challenges, as we strive to overcome to deliver quality healthcare. Each initiative underscores our commitment to the well-being of our people and our dedication to building a healthier, more resilient nation.
As we look ahead to the construction of our new hospital, I want to assure the Hon. Konris Maynard, that the name will remain J.N. France General Hospital, and it will remain in Constituency #3 as well. But if we were to look around us, we will see a number of institutions here in St. Kitts and Nevis. One being, of course, the UMHS, just across from us, which is a medical school, and it also has nursing courses right here in St. Kitts and Nevis. If you look further along the road you will recognize that Ross University of Veterinary Medicine is right here as well.
So, what we are seeking to establish in this zone is a medical city, a health city. So, it is envisaged that we will have UMHS, Ross University, this major hospital, along with a research lab, and other private healthcare facilities to help with our vision of creating a city that can serve, not only our people, but the surrounding countries, or islands, and visitors alike. That is the vision that we are aiming to achieve.
We signed a document with Ross University School of Medicine. In that document, where the Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Samal Duggins; myself; and the leadership from the university declared the concept of one health. Where we would not separate necessarily human health from veterinary health in terms of research, because as we know, a lot of the medical diseases that affect us as human beings, come because of contact with animals, and so, this concept is an internal, universal concept, and St. Kitts and Nevis dear to be bold enough to help to lead the world in this area of creating this one health city.
I want to take this opportunity to say that the journey here has not been easy, it has been challenging. To achieve something like this in such a short space of time had to be a huge undertaking, and I could not have done it myself. The justification for investing so heavily in an institution such as a climate-smart hospital, is obvious. We see the scourge of climate change. When the present JNF hospital was built, many years ago, under the former Labour administration, that constructed an excellent hospital for the day.
Many, many years later, we are now recognizing the changes that we are seeing in conditions, both in terms of demands for different types of healthcare and also the demands for better technology in healthcare, and the climate changes that are taking place that are affecting the institution, it is obvious that we need an institution that would respond to all these needs. And let me say, people will forgive, but what people will not forgive is that in the face of all of the information, understanding that this will be the most active hurricane season in history; both in terms of the number of named storms, and the strength of those storms, and we as a country not take a bold move to establish what should be, if all the institutions in St. Kitts are affected by a major storm, the institution that should be most resilient, and people expect the Government to invest heavily in for its sustenance, would be of course, a hospital. That is why we are taking the bold step to say to our people that we understand the need and we will do all that we can do to sustain your health; to sustain your lives. That is why we deem it important to build a climate smart and resilient hospital.
This hospital, as mentioned before, the OECC, is the lead, but of course, part of the discussion is to make sure that we have our local companies involved, hence the statement mentioned by Ambassador Lin, and this is expected to provide a significant number of jobs for a significant period of time. So, this would have a tremendous impact economically, not only on the surrounding environments but on St. Kitts and Nevis as a whole. This institution would also allow us to offer healthcare services to tourists who will, of course, add to our economic and financial sustainability and viability.
Already other countries are approaching us and asking if we can offer a certain level of healthcare services to them; that is the vision. This will impact tourism directly. Why? Many tourists who travel to countries ask, “What healthcare services do you provide?”, and based on that, people determine whether to visit your country or not visit your country. This hospital will say to them that, yes you can come to St. Kitts and Nevis.
I want to say even though we are building this brand-new hospital, we have not abandoned the present hospital. We have invested significantly in that hospital. Today if you go to the foyer; and I want to thank the Minister responsible for The Cable, Hon. Konris Maynard, and the Ministry of Health, you will see there is a transformation of the entrance of the hospital.
We have invested in the labs. We have invested in other areas, even the morgue as well. We are investing in the private ward to reopen it. We have invested in AC units that we now have in the medical and surgical wards because of the rising temperatures. So, we have invested significantly in that building and will continue to invest so that we can have two good buildings. One, of course, which is the premier one that can withstand, based on the materials and technology used, the strongest of storms, but also have a JNF that is much improved and can sustain to some extent storms and hurricanes as well. So, there is no abandonment of the present JNF. That institution, we also want to be on a pathway to accreditation as well. And so, we continue to build out all of these things. Not just in infrastructure, in the physical, but also in the services provided by offering scholarships and contracting new specialists in the medical field, with new equipment and so forth, so that all of our health can be taken care of.
I finally want to say that we should all be immensely proud of this significant achievement that we are attaining today. This is not a groundbreaking ceremony, this is Project Start, which means we are ready to start our brand-new institution. I want to express my sincere thanks to all of you who are involved because I cannot do this alone, it takes expertise of different types. It takes the support of the A-team, my Cabinet colleagues. It takes support from all of the healthcare professionals and workers, nurses, doctors, allied services, legal persons, collaboration with other countries, overseas construction and engineering companies, and local engineering companies. I want to thank Mr. Victor Williams, of course, who is also a significant part of this, one of our premier designers and project managers here in St. Kitts and Nevis.
I want to say that this is an effort where all hands on deck has proven to be the best way to go forward. But I cannot wrap up without thanking my wife, because all of the headaches and challenges to get us here, she has really been there for me, so I want to thank you very much as well.
Thank you to all of you for all of your contributions. May this hospital see its full completion and deliver what we intend for it to deliver.
Thank you very much.

The Prime Minister’s remarks can be viewed here from 30:51.


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