Jamaica, like many countries, has a problem when it comes to housing for healthcare workers and other critical emergency personnel. The problem is that these careers generally offer a reasonable salary, but remains difficult to attract workers to regions that are very expensive, or very poor. And because of the front-line nature of emergency preparedness, healthcare workers are needed in every town, neighborhood and rural community.
The United States was ranked 16th when it comes to the infrastructure competitiveness.
Even Jamaica is having issues with affordable housing for healthcare workers. Dr. Christopher Tufton, the Health Minister of Jamaica, is now studying a public-private partnership proposal. This will involve establishing accommodations for health workers. It will be beneficial not just for health care providers but also for the community.
A public-private partnership, PPP, is a long-term contract between a private corporation and a governmental body. The PPP will supply public benefits, such as a service or an asset; in this case, housing for a particular group of employees.
Dr. Tufton explained during a tour at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Morant Bay, that the PPP needs an investor who will inject funds to build housing facilities.
“We would secure private participation in the financing and building of the accommodations,” he said. “[With] a long-term financing arrangement that would see the lease payments by the tenants occupying the facility”.
Dr. Cecil Batchelor, a Senior Medical Officer at Princess Margaret Hospital, is concerned about the high turnover rate of hospital staff. He attributes this to the lack of housing or decent lodging.
Public-private partnerships may be the best solution on the table and create a win-win for the hospital, employees, and community. It is hoped that PPP can bring to the table:
- Better infrastructure solutions
- Faster project completions
- Greater Return-on-investment
- Risks are fully appraised early on.
- The project execution and operational risk is transferred.
- PPP can include early completion bonuses.
- Government funds will be re-directed to other important socio-economic areas.
- The greater efficiency of PPP reduces the budget deficit.
- High-quality standards
- PPP allows lower taxes.
The Princess Margaret Hospital, which sits on 26-acres of land, is an ideal location that could benefit from the PPP arrangement.
Countries that Practice Public- Private Partnership
Jamaica is not the only country that is seriously looking at PPP, there are other countries as well. According to World Bank Group, these are some of the public-private partnerships from different countries:
- Ghana – PPP Advisory Unit
- Nigeria – Foundation for PPP Association and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission
- Uganda – PPP Unit (Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development)
- Kuwait – Partnerships Technical Bureau
- Israel – PPP Unit at MF
- Egypt – PPP Central Unit
- Australia – Infrastructure Australia
- China – Public-Private Partnerships Center
- Hong Kong – Hong Kong Efficiency Unit
- Indonesia – PPP Directorate of Bappenas and the Indonesia Infrastructure
- Philippines – PPP Center
- Belgium – Flemish PPP Knowledge Center
- Croatia – Agency for Public-Private Partnership
- Denmark – Danish Business Authority
- Chile – Ministerio de Obras
- Peru – ProInversion
So why is the United States of America lagging?
As one of the most powerful countries, it should be a leader in PPPs. The spending of the United States on PPP infrastructure projects accounted for only 9 percent of the global total. The reason for this is the municipal bond market in the country.
The United States was ranked 16th when it comes to the infrastructure competitiveness. PPP units like the Federal Highway Administration, National Council of PPP, and Department of State; Global Partnership Initiative exist; but they are not enough for America to be hailed as a global leader in infrastructure.
Other Public-Private Partnership Plans for Jamaica
Aside from developing accommodations for health workers, Dr. Tufton has other plans. He is going to study the need of the Princess Margaret Hospital for additional incubators. Dr. Tufton will also examine the reasons why the completion in the $143 million expansion of the Accident and Emergency Building of the hospital was delayed.
He expects that the construction of the new 220-bed facility on the grounds of Cornwall Regional Hospital which will be torn down before the end of the 2017 financial year.
Dr. Tufton also explained that this year, Mandeville Regional Hospital, Spanish Town Hospital, and St Ann’s Bay Hospital are just a few to be upgraded from being Type B to becoming Type A hospitals. Many of these projects may benefit from PPP.
Developing accommodations for health workers has become the way for PPP to enter Jamaica’s economy. Public-private partnerships have the capacity to build a cycle of mutual advantages for all the parties involved. With the introduction of PPP to Jamaica, it may be possible for the Caribbean island nation to emerge as a leader in the region.