Children who require critical surgery under the World Pediatric Project (WPP) no longer have to travel out of the state to get the care they require.
On Friday, April 7, the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines and the WPP opened the WPP designated operating theatre at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, which cost approximately, US$1 million to equip.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, chief executive officer (CEO) of the WPP Susan Rickman said that the operating theatre is equipped to allow teams to do far more complex surgeries in SVG, which allows families to stay at home and not have to travel to the United States.
She said the operating theatre makes it possible for the WPP to increase the number of pediatric specialists they send to St Vincent and the Grenadines to improve and save lives.
The WPP CEO said that since 2002, when they first travelled to SVG, over 1,000 children have received lifesaving surgeries.
“With the designated OR (operating room), that number will double in a much shorter amount of time, with our increase in teams,” Rickman stated.
She explained that this new operating theatre would benefit not only Vincentians, but children across the region.
“Because of this commitment of allowing children from throughout the region to come into this hospital for free care through WPP, the OECS recognizes St Vincent as the pediatric centre for excellence for the entire Caribbean region,” Rickman said.
She disclosed that funding for the equipment was done through the Mustique Charitable Trust (MCT), which has provided the WPP with US$2.4 million since 2004.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, in his remarks, described the doctors, nurses and other medical and health professions who work with the WPP as “angels of life”.
He said the homeowners of Mustique have done something “absolutely amazing” in forming the MCT and he thanked them from the bottom of his heart and the hearts of the families and children involved, as well as the Government and people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Prime Minister, who during the ceremony shed tears while listening to the stories of the children who have been helped under the WPP, said that he considers Susan Rickman, CEO of the WPP, a national of his country.
Minister of Health Luke Browne stated that the WPP gives our children a chance to grow up and have a brighter future. He described last Friday as an important moment in the development of health care in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
He said that since 2002 when the WPP (formerly known as International Hospital for Children) first started coming to SVG, things have never been the same.
He pointed out that not only has the WPP been doing surgeries, but they have been involved in the capacity building for the sector.
“They have helped to upgrade our health care infrastructure along the way,” Browne said.
He noted that the Government supports the WPP’s ‘Transformation 2030’, which is a vision to cover all children across the Eastern Caribbean who need critical care.
Browne said the operating theatre block was renovated at a cost of just under $1 million dollars, under a separate project ‘The Modernization of the Health Sector’, after which it was equipped at a cost of US$1 million.
The Minister pledged to take care of the equipment and make good use of it. (CM)
[Source: Thursday, April 13, 2017, edition of Searchlight Newspaper]