La Digue gets new hospital |16 August 2023
By Patsy Canaya
President Wavel Ramkalawan yesterday afternoon inaugurated the new La Digue hospital, urging residents to take good care of it.
“People of La Digue, this is your hospital. Please take good care of it,” President Ramkalawan said.
President Ramkalawan was accompanied by the secretary-general of Emirates Red Crescent Authority, Hamoud Abdullah Al Junaibi, and the Minister for Health, Peggy Vidot, in unveiling the plaque and cut the ribbon to officially inaugurate the newly built hospital named St Mary’s hospital, located at l’Union Estate.
The project, initiated in November 2020 following a visit to the island by President Ramkalawan, has been financed through a $4 million donation from the United Arab Emirates government and R2 million from the La Digue Hospital Fund. The foundation stone was laid on August 15, 2021 and construction work by the Green Island Construction Company (GICC) started in March last year.
When addressing the guests, the president said it was with immense pride that he stood before the Diguois 16 months later to present their new facility, which has become a reality despite many challenges.
Mr Ramkalawan said he made a commitment right after his election and this has now come to fruition.
He thanked everyone who has been part of this journey from day one, especially the UAE government, the people of La Digue, and those closely involved with the conception and construction of the hospital.
In an interview to the press, the head of state said the final touches were being put to the St Mary’s hospital and the residents will be able to use the facility in the coming weeks.
“We are expecting to complete the installation of all equipment by late September or beginning of October, and then transfer everything into this new hospital. Once it is operational, that is when we will put the name on building,” he stated.
The president described St Mary’s hospital as the most beautiful, modern and state-of-the-art hospital in the country at present.
“This hospital can receive international accreditation, becoming the first in Seychelles,” he stated, referring to the size of the corridors, and emergency area, among others, which are up to international standards.
The facilities include labour room, surgery room, x-ray, ultrasound service, laboratory, and a hospice among others, where patients will be able to receive services such as consultation, dialysis, emergency care, pharmacy and clinical laboratory family health care as well as oral health care.
The president said, seeing the services on offer and the size of the hospital, it will not be reserved for La Digue residents only but would be used as a regional hospital, catering for Praslin patients as well.
During yesterday’s launch, he once again appealed to the hospital staff to ensure they provide the best service to the patients, by greeting them with a smile, listening and attending to them with care and respect.
“When a person is in pain they want someone to hold their hands and assist them, so please I appeal to staff of the health ministry to give our people the best service. So the new hospital should not only be a nice structure but it should be accompanied by a high level of service,” urged Mr Ramkalawan.
The president also said since the hospital was quite spacious, they were considering renting out some rooms to private doctors and dentists but this was presently still at discussion stage. The main building and annex are spread over 3150 square metres.
For her part, Minister Vidot also expressed her pride for what she described as a joyous occasion – “the realisation of a major step in meeting the health needs of our people”.
“To the many who have dreamt, created, crafted and toiled to see this construction rise from bare ground into a magnificent hospital, I offer my heartiest congratulations,” said Minister Vidot.
She also thanked her fellow health workers who have been part of the journey, stating she shared their vision to turn the hospital into a centre of excellence in primary health care.
The secretary-general of Emirates Red Crescent Authority, Hamoud Abdullah Al Junaibi, also delivered a speech in Arabic.
Yesterday’s ceremony also saw the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Health and the Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF), which presently assists the ministry in emergency cases when patients have to be airlifted to Mahé or transported by boat to Praslin.
The signing was done by the chief executive of the Health Care Agency, Dr Danny Louange, and the chief of Defence Forces, Brigadier Michael Rosette.
The inauguration ceremony included blessing by the Catholic church, exchange of gifts by the head of state and guest of honour from the UAE, performances by Diguois, as well as a tour of the building and viewing of an exhibition.
The accompanying photos show some highlights of the ceremony.
Photos by Romano Laurence