Three top governmental priorities are underway simultaneously in an effort to restore habitability in Barbuda.
The plan calls for the opening of the Hanna Thomas Hospital within three weeks. Both an island-wide cleanup of the landscape and vector control operations will be completed in two weeks, according to Melford Nicholas, minister of information and broadcasting.
Following a week of analyses and evaluations by the Ministry of Health and The Environment, donor agencies and the World Health Organization, Cabinet has established that in order for the island to be habitable, the restoration of the health facility is of critical importance. This hospital opening timeline is dependent upon the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) providing a supply of clean, potable water to the facility.
According to Nicholas, vector control is a top priority in restoration efforts because the Browne administration is concerned about the outbreaks of cholera, dengue fever, and the Zika virus. “The fact of the matter is that the surface area of Barbuda, including the settlement of water, has created an environment that has to be carefully managed,” explained Nicholas.
One hundred-fifty Barbudans are joining the national solid waste team in cleaning up the island. Trevor Brown, supervisor of waste collections, said the Barbudans will primarily be involved in separating the galvanize from the roofs and storing them in a safe area. From Brown’s point of view, “The cleanup of the debris and the rubble is well and truly on the way.” The area surrounding the Hanna Thomas Hospital has been cleaned so far, he said, enabling the Barbuda contingency to “charge onward,” in days to come.
Referring to the cleanup goal, Brown said, “The two-week deadline is a little ambitious, but we could be very close to completing what we are doing with a little extra hours.”
Arthur Nibbs, Barbuda’s parliamentary representative, believes that infrastructure reconstruction will be possible once the top priorities are completed.