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  • By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

New hospital in Chuuk proposed

Micronesian and U.S. officials will begin tackling a plan to build a $50-million new hospital in Weno to replace Chuuk’s old medical facility, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The proposed new hospital in Chuuk will be funded through a $200-million grant available under the Compact of Free Association for public infrastructure projects in the Federated States of Micronesia.

The FSM Information Service said the government expects to see the construction of eight major infrastructure projects, worth nearly $44.5 million, to begin by November this year. An additional 15 projects, worth nearly $53.4 million, may begin construction by November 2020.

Chuuk Public Health Director Julio Mariur and Dr. Dorina Fred gave DOI Assistant Secretary Doug Domenech a tour of public hospital on March 19. Photo courtesy of DOI

“With support and technical assistance provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the FSM government has now established and fully staffed three out of five program management offices in the FSM, and continues to lay the foundation for the professional management and use of public infrastructure funding and building projects throughout the FSM,” DOI said.

Chuuk Public Health Director Julio Mariur and Dr. Dorina Fred gave DOI Assistant Secretary Doug Domenech a tour of public hospital on March 19. The hospital tour was among the highlights of the mid-year meetings of the Joint Economic Management Committee (JEMCO).

The existing hospital in Chuuk, built during the trust territory era prior to the Compact’s implementation in 1986, “is in great disrepair,” a press release from DOI said.

“Originally built with a 120-bed capacity, it is the only in-patient facility in the State of Chuuk, serving over half of the FSM population, nearly 50,000, spread out over dozens of islands inside and beyond the Chuuk Lagoon,” DOI said.

The hospital was renovated in 2008 by the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 through a Department of Defense Pacific Partnership program.

According to FSMIS, JEMCO’s discussion included policy items surrounding effective grant administration, initiatives for improvements in education and health data and performance indicator management, further advancements on the establishment of the FSM infrastructure management institutions, and progress on infrastructure project implementation.

The FSM has submitted for JEMCO‘s consideration an allocation of $2.1 million for two health sector projects to be funded by the Compact grant.

“$1,618,213 will be dedicated for the FSM’s response to the urgent need for mass screening, and related treatments, of tuberculosis cases in the islands of Weno, Tol, and Polle in Chuuk State,” FSMIS said. “The remaining $500,000 is allocated for funding the FSM key performance indicator project, whose purpose is to improve both the management of health data, as well as the reporting thereof, and support informed decision-making in areas ranging from the prioritization of healthcare funding to the diagnosing and treatment of the nation’s citizens.”

U.S. officials also visited the Chuuk Public Utility Corp. (CPUC) power plant on Weno, which received $10 million in Compact grant for purchases of new generators, equipment and facility renovation.

“I understand that JEMCO chair Nik Pula and the other members were impressed by their visit to the Weno power plant, a once-failing utility that is now a model in the Pacific region,” Domenech said.

FSMIS said the meeting also tackled electric power crisis in Pohnpei State. “COFA assistance was allocated in August 2018, to support the overhaul of two generator sets ($828,220) and installation of cash-meters ($500,000). It is expected that the generator sets will be fully operational in July, 2019. For longer-term solutions, JEMCO expressed its willingness to support reforms efforts focusing on the management and operations of Pohnpei State’s public utilities,” the FSMIS said.


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