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By Carlena Knight

Residents on the sister isle are a step closer to being able to use Barbuda’s lone hospital again as the keys are set to be officially handed to the Council next Friday. 

Council Secretary Paul Nedd told Observer renovations to the Hanna Thomas Hospital – which was destroyed by Hurricane Irma in 2017 – were roughly half complete.

The authority will now be responsible for completing the works before it is reopened to the public.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Roberts Construction signed a contract to rehabilitate the medical facility after the devastating category five storm. It was signed under the umbrella of the India-UN Development Partnership Fund, and after consultations with the government.  

The rehabilitation work finally began in November 2018, and following a few setbacks – including the Covid-19 pandemic – the hospital will now be back in the hands of the Barbudan people. 

Barbuda’s MP Trevor Walker confirmed the development on Thursday, while speaking on the Observer AM radio show.

“Well the UNDP has informed us that Friday (yesterday) should have been the handing over ceremony for the hospital to the Barbuda Council but because of the weather and so on it has been postponed until next Friday, the 7th,” he said.

“I was in touch with the UNDP rep and she has assured us that she is working with the Barbuda Council as she has been doing to make sure that things are sent over and received and any assistance really in terms of technical support to install some of these equipment will be given,” said Walker.

UK-based charity Jacob’s Well Appeal donated medical supplies and equipment worth $1 million to Mount St John’s Medical Centre in Antigua, and the Hanna Thomas Hospital in Barbuda. Ten hospital beds were also donated by St George’s Hospital in London.

The items were sourced after representatives from the High Commission held consultations with the National Office for Disaster Services (NODS) and members of the medical team in Barbuda.

Despite ongoing tension over critical supplies donated to the hospital, Walker voiced his gratitude to all the donors for their support so far and is looking forward to future interactions to assist the development of Barbuda.

The hospital is one of the final remaining public facilities to have been retrofitted post-Irma, following the re-opening of the Holy Trinity Primary School last September, along with the sports complex and the Ernest Beazer Lewis Daycare Centre also in 2019. 

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