Remarks By Prime Minister Of The Federation Of St. Kitts And Nevis, Dr. The Hon. Timothy Harris At The Handing Over Ceremony Of The Field Hospitals – Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Minister of Health, Hon Akilah Byron-Nisbett, Attorney General, Vincent Byron Jr., Junior Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration, Hon Hazel Brandy-Williams, Permanent Secretaries, Her Excellency Linda Taglialatela, Ambassador to the United States of America, Mr. Abdias Samuel of NEMA, other invited guests.

Today is an historic day for our beloved Federation of St Kitts and Nevis as we emerge further from the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic and we continue our diligent work to put our Federation back on track to economic growth, job creation, and higher income levels.

Today we apply the lessons learned from the pandemic.  

We put in place even more measures to keep our people safe and secure from future health threats and a wide range of hazards.  We now live in a multi-hazard environment.  Given this backdrop I am delighted to participate in the historic handing over of this field hospital – an important first in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. 

A field hospital is a temporary hospital where emergency health services are provided to victims injured in epidemics and natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods.  They have been widely used around the world to help countries fight COVID-19 and mitigate the undermining of the health system.  Their use in India for an example and has been credited with saving the lives of many who would have otherwise been denied health services as the health system was then overwhelmed.

We learned from COVID-19 the importance of early planning and preparation.

This field hospital will help to prepare us and put us in a much stronger position if the need arises to address any disaster and it will help us to strengthen our health response during this pandemic.  Throughout this pandemic and we have adopted a life-first strategy. 

Investments like these field hospitals at a cost of EC $1.3 million excluding the cost of vehicles, equipment, and other resources represent a further build-out of our life-first strategy, and our continuing efforts to strengthen our health system.  We will continue to do all within our power to prevent the overwhelming of our health system, regardless of the threat posed. 

Historically field hospitals have played a major role in reducing human losses during disasters, wars, and epidemics.  Truth be told, we are in a veritable war against COVID-19, which remains an existential threat to lives, livelihoods, and cohesiveness in the world.

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked a devastating toll on communities, globally. In fact, as of yesterday, worldwide, there were 237,383,711 confirmed cases of the SARS COV2 virus and a staggering 4,842,716 associated death.

No country has been unaffected by the virus! While we all continue to face and combat the unprecedented challenges as a result of COVID-19.

This new field hospital will be deployed at the Joseph N. France Hospital and will add to our bed capacity, boosting our ability to fight this deadly virus.  It is of note that this health facility provides a negative pressure facility to isolate COVID patients thus conferring a crucial health capability.  It is our hope that such a facility will have a positive impact relative to stemming the spread and managing persons with COVID-19.

This field hospital has a capacity of an additional 40 beds and is produced with the highest quality of international standards.  We have strengthened the system not just by the physical structure of this field hospital but also the support and equipment that will make the hospital run effectively.  The field hospital is equipped for example with patient rails, intravenous poles, mattresses, and a power generator.   It also has its own plumbing and water treatment system in accordance with the best international standards and practice.  It will be air-conditioned allowing patient care to be delivered in comfort.

Our intention as a government has always been that our patients receive the best care in the best facility.  Our people on the ground have had the necessary training in the set up and dismantle this hospital.  We note that this hospital can be moved to any part of the federation as the need arises. 

So today we welcome a new tool in our arsenal, a powerful tool in our life first strategy and our constant endeavour to protect the health of our people.

We learned a lot through COVID-19 about the need to prepare, as we protect the health of our people and we also learned who our true friends are.  We thank the United States Government for its generous support.  The US Government has proven its friendship, care, and consideration for us in St Kitts and Nevis.

It is clear that the Government of the United States of America continues to demonstrate much benevolence and generosity by sharing its resources with smaller island developing states such as ours.  

Ambassador Taglialatela, please convey our appreciation to your Government.

There is a very close bond of friendship between St Kitts and Nevis and the United States of America.

Just as we are home to many of your students, the United States of America is home to many of our nationals.  It is the preferred country for our people to visit, study and vacation.  It is our biggest merchandise export market and main source of tourists to our destination.  We were quite happy to have assisted with the production of parts for the manufacturing of ventilators at a time when the health system in the USA needed them.

We have seen that relationship strengthens during the COVID pandemic with continued support to us in this fight against the pandemic.

We value our strong and close relationship with the United States and today shows the practical benefits this relationship realizes for the lives of people in our Federation.

I want to thank everyone who has been involved in delivering these 2 Field Hospitals.  I recognize in particular Mr. Abdias Samuel, a public servant always energized to do more and better for our country.

We have recognized what can be achieved and accomplished when everyone works collaboratively with each other and when larger countries support smaller ones.

Long Live Diplomacy.  Long Live Unity.  Long Live Cooperation.  Let us work together and deliver the best health care for all.  Let’s move together on a journey of a stronger and safer future.

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