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By Melanie Allicock

A whopping US$20M is to be spent over the next year in the massive construction/rehabilitation of nine hospitals throughout the country.

This massive infrastructural work will be done at Mahaicony, Lethem, Diamond, Leonora, Port Mourant, Suddie, Linden and Georgetown , and is part of government's effort of modernizing the health sector and improving the quality of health care to Guyanese.

According to Minister Ramsammy, a state-of-the-art hospital and diagnostic centre is being built at Leonora at a cost of G$100M to replace the cottage hospital there.

The design has already been completed and tenders for contractors have been advertised.

Contracts should be awarded within the next two weeks according to Ramsammy.

The Mahaicony Cottage hospital is to be renovated at a cost of G$80M.

While a section of the building will be retained, the majority will undergo massive rehabilitation.

Residents of Diamond on the East Bank of Demerara and its environs will also benefit from a new hospital which is to be built shortly at Diamond to the tune of G$100M.

Contracts for both of these facilities have already been awarded and contractors are mobilising to begin work soon.

Meanwhile, the design for the new Ophthalmology Centre at Port Mourant is completed and advertisements for contractors should be posted within a week.

This facility is being constructed at a cost of G$120M.

According to Minister Ramsammy, construction is progressing smoothly on the Lethem hospital which is being built to the tune of G$120M.

Works are also moving apace on the G$80M Suddie Hospital which will see major infrastructural improvements.

As part of the modernisation of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, a new US$1M Public Health Laboratory will be built for the first time.

The new state-of-the-art in-patient building to be established will cost an additional US$8M according to Minister Ramsammy.

Meanwhile tenders are out for contractors for the huge US$8M hospital at Mc Kenzie, Linden .

Works on this facility were stymied after the local contractors who responded to the first set of advertisements failed to meet the criteria of the international funding agency, the World Bank.

According to Minister Ramsammy, the local contractors did not have the requisite expertise.

The Health Ministry has now resorted to international tendering.

An additional G$100M is to be spent on housing for staff at the various facilities, according to the Minister.

The Health Ministry is working to have these hospitals completed within the next year.

However more long term plans for improving the health care delivery system includes brand new hospitals at Mabaruma and Skeldon at a cost of G$100M respectively.

The design for the facility at Mabaruma has been completed but according to Minister Ramsammy is not included in this year's budget.

It is expected to be a part of the 2007 budget of expenditure.

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