photo credits: Adam Somers, Island Times

Representatives from the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and Surangel & Sons Construction Company kickstarted a project to rehabilitate Peleliu’s dispensary this week, with analyses conducted this Wednesday and construction set to begin next week.

The Peleliu Southern Community Health Center (SCHC) improvement project has been allocated $512,207 from a $1.5 million grant from the Government of India, to improve three health centers as well as procure COVID-19 emergency equipment to Palau.

With UNOPS administering the Peleliu project and Surangel & Sons Construction contracted to complete it, the rehabilitation project is aimed at upgrading the physical infrastructure and hygiene of the facility, as well as providing nutritional and health education to the local community. Long-term goals of the project involve increasing and training medical staff at the center.  

Work on the dispensary, which is scheduled to finish by the end of April, includes the installation of septic tanks for wastewater treatment, repairs to the roofing and termite-affected wood, making the building wheelchair-accessible, installing smooth countertops, and ensuring good ventilation, as well as checking floor-drains to ensure that no hazardous odors or moisture are returning to the building.

“We are really taking care for the long-run and the life-expectancy [of the facility],” said Mr. Thomas Blaich, the Project Manager for UNOPS, stressing that prudent operating behaviors are important for maintaining a healthcare facility. Running AC units all day and all night, for instance, could cause problems with condensation, he said.

Peleliu Governor Temmy Shmull stressed how important having a functioning healthcare facility on island is to Peleliu’s community at the groundbreaking ceremony last week. He emphasized that, during medical emergencies which require a patient to be taken to Belau National Hospital in Koror, medical help may come too late.

This past August, Koa Moana Task Force helped to construct a building next to the SCHC to accommodate Peleliu’s resident nurse, who comes from Papua New Guinea.

Minister of Health Emais Roberts as well as Palau’s Ambassador to the United Nations Ms. Ngedikes Olai Uludong have said that they hope to eventually station Palauan medical staff at the local healthcare facilities, such as the young Palauan doctors studying in Cuba.

“At the end of the day, these [young Palauan doctors] need to return home and also have a place to go, and I think that these dispensaries once they’re finished would be a very good place for them to build on what they were actually trained for in Cuba,” said Ms. Uludong at the groundbreaking ceremony last week.

The SCHC in Peleliu is one of three dispensaries which are being retrofitted by the grant money from the Indian Government, with the other two located in Ngerchelong and Ngeremlengui. The other two facilities, however, are being worked on by HBO Construction, although all three projects are being administered by UNOPS.

Governor Shmull thanked the Government of India for its donation.

India has been noted for its history of focusing grant money on projects to improve healthcare and education. 

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