Specialist units among plans for expansion of country’s health sector

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Minister of Health Sir Molwyn Joseph
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By Carlena Knight

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Plans are in the pipeline to further expand the country’s healthcare system and the services available on island.

Health Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph made that disclosure while speaking at the opening ceremony for the Villa Polyclinic on Thursday.

He revealed that talks are underway with several neurosurgeons in the hopes of a specialist unit being set up in the country to deal with issues related to the brain and spine, services he noted are not currently offered in the Eastern Caribbean.

Joseph also spoke to the ongoing kidney transplant programme and mentioned that following the six successful surgeries thus far, two additional surgeries are scheduled to take place in upcoming months.

“We are leaving no stone unturned, we are negotiating all the services so that Antiguans and Barbudans would not have to travel abroad.

“Just yesterday in the Cabinet, we had five cases of people who have applied for assistance to go abroad, five separate cases. We are working towards the day when we do not have to do so. This takes good management. It takes commitment,” Joseph said.

He also gave an update on the renal centre which is under construction at the Holberton Hospital.

Plans were revealed by Works Minister Lennox Weston last year for the old Edwards ward to be retrofitted into the renal centre.

“Perhaps in another six to nine months, hopefully sooner, we will have a brand new renal centre which is being constructed right now with more opportunities for dialysis and that will be moved out of the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre (SLBMC) and the space that is vacated is going to be used for a brand new cardiac unit for the SLBMC,” Joseph continued.

“Negotiations are taking place with one of the leading hospitals within the United States, in order for them to come here, set up our cardiac unit and, within a relatively short time, hopefully if my ambition is not misplaced, within about two years I am hoping to see heart transplants take place in Antigua and Barbuda,” Joseph said.

He added that the commitment of local health care officials would prove critical in improving the sector.

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