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With extravagant pomp, the Government of Dominica last Friday officially opened phase one of the Dominica China Friendship Hospital (DCFH).

There are six other phases to go before the construction of the US$5 million hospital is completed but then fresh general elections are in the air and hence the urgency of an opening ceremony that early in the process.

Strangely being built on the same site of the old Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) while it is in full operation, the DCFH was one of the four-pillar projects that China gifted to Dominica 15 years ago when Prime Minister Roosevelt severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 2004 and simultaneously adopted a One-China Policy.

The other "pillar" projects were the Windsor Park Sports Stadium, the re-surfacing of the Edward Oliver LeBlanc Highway and the rebuilding of the Dominica Grammar School.

Building the hospital on the site of a hospital in operation "required massive coordination" and was very "complicated" said Ambassador of the People's Republic of China, His Excellency Lu Kun.

"This is not the end of the project," said Health Minister Dr. Kenneth Darroux. "Not by a long shot".

Phase one of the DCFH includes a new Accident and Emergency Centre and Medical Technology Building #1. It began in August 2016 but construction was interrupted by the category five hurricane Maria that devastated Dominica in September 2017.

But Maria's destructive force had some benefits, after all. The Hurricane prompted authorities to make important improvements to the structure of the new hospital, making it more resistant to earthquakes and hurricanes.

"We wanted to guarantee the safety of every patient, every doctor, every nurse in the hospital," said Ambassador Lu Kun.

Not unexpectedly, Prime Minister Skerrit gloated about the completion of phase one of the hospital (although he said "that's not in my nature").

"This is a moment I have envisioned from the time I entered office as prime minister of this country and I am elated to have played a small part like so many others, in bringing the dream to fruition," he said.

During his speech, Skerrit reiterated Dominica's support for China in the international arena and for the unification of Chinese territories.

"We say so without fear of any country or any person in the world," said Skerrit.


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