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Story and photos by Adia Wynter

Plans to make health care in Antigua and Barbuda more accessible have moved a step forward with the welcoming of the Blackburn Polyclinic. 

The Villa and Point community will benefit from the new facility, which is much like its Glanvilles counterpart unveiled last week. The two polyclinics – a gift from China – are intended to alleviate the load of Mount St John’s Medical Centre while reaching more people in need.

Speaking at a media tour of the newly constructed Blackburn Park-based clinic on Monday, Minister of Health, Molwyn Joseph, said, “One major sustainable development goal is accessibility of healthcare. Accessibility could mean someone not having the money to pay, or it could mean not having the facility. We have addressed those two issues,” Joseph said.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne spoke about the facility’s role in decentralising health services, easing congestion and allowing better delivery of services to the public.

“What we are doing here is that we are decentralising health care and also ensuring that there is some equity in the delivery of health care services throughout the island,” Browne said.

He further stated, “It means that Antiguans and Barbudans will have greater accessibility to both primary and secondary health care services, and Mount St John’s will focus on tertiary health care.”

The clinic is equipped with apparatus allowing for Covid-19 testing as well as facilities for x-rays, physical therapy, dental operations, pharmaceutical operations and several other procedures.

Browne said construction of a cardiac unit and a renal unit is set to begin in a few months, providing tertiary care that was not previously available in Antigua and Barbuda and is still not available in a number of Caribbean countries.

“In fact, I am of the view that in the near future, we will be able to export health services to the neighbouring islands,” Browne added.

Joseph said there were plans for up to five or six polyclinics in total for the country and that the next one was set to be created in the south of Antigua.

The date for the Blackburn facility’s opening has not yet been determined.

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