President Surangel Whipps Jr. last week signed an executive order establishing a committee which will look into a new location of a new hospital as The Belau National Hospital is at risk due to the impacts of climate change.
“The location of the Belau National Hospital in Meyuns is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, as the hospital is located very close to sea level and is accessible to most residents of the Republic only by way of the Meyuns causeway a low-lying thoroughfare,” Whipps said in Executive Order 461.
The president said the “ complex problem” of relocation will also entail financing and public health solutions to ensure transition to a new location, being the BNH is the lone hospital in the country.
The Belau National Relocation Committee, will evaluate new locations, financing and public health sustainability .
The committee which will be composed of a physician designated by the president, ministers , representatives of the Palau Chamber of Commerce, the Senate, the House of Delegates and Governors Association among others within 180 days from the date of the order will submit a proposal identifying a new location for BNH.
In the recent Virtual Island Summit event, President Whipps told the international regional meeting that as a small island, Palau faces the negative impact of sea level rise.
In April , Palau was hit by Typhoon Surigae which left many homes destroyed and it also brought about the need for infrastructure changes that includes the relocation of a hospital prone to disaster such as sea level rise.
“In April of this year, we were hit with a third typhoon in 10 years. This is unprecedented. We all watched in fear of the possibility of losing our only hospital due to its location on the shoreline. It’s no longer a matter of if, but a matter of when we will lose our only hospital,” Whipps said.