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Jul 12, 2004

New San Pedro Clinic to open soon

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It may be the wealthiest urban area in the nation, but residents of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, have not had access to a corresponding level of medical care. Now, thanks to a partnership between a service club and government, that situation may soon be remedied. News 5′s Patrick Jones reports.

The agreements signed this afternoon will facilitate the completion of a project started by the San Pedro Lions Club to establish the town?s first twenty-four-hour medical facility.

Milo Paz, President, San Pedro Lions Club

?The government of Belize will complete the facility that we have that the Lions commence. They will equip it and then they will staff the facility. The San Pedro Lions Club will be in the board of directors for the operation of the hospital itself or the poly clinic. But the initial investment of the property and the building that you see in front of you was raised by the San Pedro Lions club.?

President of the San Pedro Lions Club, Milo Paz, say it?s a major step for the community.

Milo Paz

?The San Pedro Lions club is proud; it?s a milestone. It was in 1977 that the San Pedro Lions Club opened its first private clinic on the island. It?s a dream of the San Pedro Lions Club to have the facility. For one, it will be the best asset that we will have for our tourism industry. Where most of Lions are entrepreneurs in the tourism industry and it is vital for the community of San Pedro and its tourist industry to continue growing at the rate we are going.?

Construction of the San Pedro lions club inter community hospital was halted about five years ago when funding for the project ran out. Now with the signing of this agreement, the facility is expected to be completed and should be in operation by the middle of next year.

Milo Paz

?It was never halted actually. It was the San Pedro Lions Club raising money to put into the place. It?s a lot of money. It?s a lot of fund raising. As soon as we got the fund raised, then we would spend it on the hospital. But it took us four and a half years to get where we are and it is something that the Lions realize it will take more than just raising funds to have a facility of this magnitude operating in San Pedro. So we joined hands with the government of Belize to provide the health care service.?

That gap in time plus major population growth has meant that the original cost estimates have also grown.

Sue Courtenay, Dir., Project Management Unit

?What we had said was that originally at the appraisal stage of the loan the population, this project was appraised about six years ago, and to where its becoming a reality today there has been a large gap of time. And the population of San Pedro has grown. And the cost of steel for example, the cost of transportation, gas has increased, so the construction cost of material also has increased. So with the expansion in tourism, the migrant workers, San Pedro actually needs a much higher level of facility and care than was originally envisaged at the appraisal stage of the project.?

By affixing his signature to the agreement, Minister of Health Vildo Marin says it commits his government providing universal health care that is affordable for all who need it.

Vildo Marin, Minister of Health

?We are ensuring that we have twenty-four-hour service so that when the people need the medical assistance they can get it. We are ensuring that the Ministry of Health get the best medicines possible for the people, and ensuring that we have that medicine available for the poorest of the poor who will certainly be coming here to this clinic.?

By the time the facility is fully operational, it will be on par with the Cleopatra White and Matron Roberts Health Centres. That is just an operating theatre and specialized services short of being a full-fledged hospital. Patrick Jones, For News Five.

Funding for the project was included in a forty million dollar loan from the Caribbean Development Bank for Belize’s health sector reform. Usher Construction beat out ten other firms to win the contract for the renovation and expansion of the clinic. According to Marin, the San Pedro Polyclinic will fall under the administration of the Ministry’s Central Region in Belize City.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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